2016 Northern Hemisphere winter / Southern Hemisphere summer solstice

December 21st, 2016 |

Meteosat-10 Visible (0.635 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Meteosat-10 Visible (0.635 µm) images [click to enlarge]

The 2016 Northern Hemisphere winter / Southern Hemisphere summer solstice occurred at 1044 UTC on 21 December. EUMETSAT Meteosat-10 Visible (0.635 µm) images (above; source) showed the westward progression of the solar terminator (which separates daylight from darkness) at 3-hour intervals.

Nearly the entire continent of Antarctica was illuminated by 24 hours of daylight, as seen on JMA Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) images (below; also available as a 60 Mbyte animated GIF). Full-disk images are routinely available at 10-minute intervals from Himawari-8 (and can be available as frequently as every 5 minutes from the GOES-R series).

Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

With the continuous daylight, Antarctic surface air temperatures from AMRC Automated Weather Stations (below; source) were seen to warm above 40ºF along the coast, and above -30ºF in the interior.

AMRC AWS station surface temperatures at 20 December (22 UTC) and 21 December (05 and 11 UTC) [click to enlarge]

AMRC AWS station surface temperatures at 20 December (22 UTC) and 21 December (05 and 11 UTC) [click to enlarge]

Moderate to severe turbulence aloft near the International Date Line

December 14th, 2016 |

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images (above; also available as MP4 and McIDAS-V animations) revealed the presence of a subtle packet of upper-tropospheric gravity waves propagating southeastward near the International Date Line (180º longitude over the central Pacific Ocean), just to the west/southwest of Midway Atoll on 14 December 2016 — and there were a few pilot reports of moderate to severe turbulence (which were responsible for at least one injury) in the general vicinity of this gravity wave feature from 1530 to 1740 UTC, at altitudes of 35,000 to 38,000 feet:

PHNL UUA /OV 2800N 18000W/TM 1530/FL380/TP B767/TB MOD-SEV/RM ZOA CWSU
PHNL UUA /OV 2643N 17757W/TM 1732/FL350/TP A330/TB SEV/RM ZOA CWSU
PHNL UUA /OV 2626N 17917W/TM 1740/FL360/TP B747/TB SEV/RM ZOA CWSU

A larger-scale view using all 3 water vapor bands of the AHI instrument on the Himawari-8/9 satellites (below; also available as an MP4 animation) showed that a broad trough was moving eastward away from the International Date Line, with the signature of a jet streak diving southward toward the region of the turbulence reports (Note: the ABI instrument on the GOES-R series of satellites will feature these same 3 upper level, mid-level and lower level water vapor bands).

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm, top; 6.9 µm, middle; 7.4 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm, top; 6.9 µm, middle; 7.4 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation]

GFS model 250 hPa analyses (12 UTC | 18 UTC | source) confirmed that the region of turbulence reports was located within the exit region an approaching 50-70 m/s or 97-136 knot upper tropospheric jet, where convergence (red contours) was maximized.


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Similarly, Himawari-8 water vapor image Derived Motion Winds, below, also indicated increasing upper-tropospheric convergence along the International Date Line (180º longitude) between 25º and 30º N latitude from 12 UTC to 18 UTC (below; source).

Himawari-8 water vapor image Derived Motion Winds at 12 UTC, with corresponding contours of Upper-tropospheric divvergence [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 water vapor image Derived Motion Winds at 12 UTC, with corresponding contours of Upper-tropospheric divvergence [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 water vapor image Derived Motion Winds at 15 UTC, with corresponding contours of Upper-tropospheric divergence [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 water vapor image Derived Motion Winds at 15 UTC, with corresponding contours of Upper-tropospheric divergence [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 water vapor image Derived Motion Winds at 18 UTC, with corresponding contours of Upper-tropospheric divergence [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 water vapor image Derived Motion Winds at 18 UTC, with corresponding contours of Upper-tropospheric divergence [click to enlarge]

A comparison of 2-km resolution Himawari-8 and 4-km resolution GOES-15 Water Vapor images (below; also available as an MP4 animation) showed that the gravity wave feature was not readily apparent on the lower spatial resolution GOES-15 images (which were only available every 30 minutes, in contrast to every 10 minutes from Himawari-8). The same color enhancement is applied to both sets of images — but because of differences between the Himawari-8 vs GOES-15 water vapor band characteristics (namely the central wavelength and the spectral response function, but also the water vapor weighting function profiles as influenced by the dissimilar satellite viewing angles) the resulting water vapor images differ in their general appearance.

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm, left) and GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, right) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm, left) and GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, right) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

This case demonstrated well the importance of viewing all 11 bits of information contained in the Himawari-8 Imagery. The animation at the top of the Blog Post shows an 8-bit display; a similar 8-bit display that uses a different color enhancement is here, courtesy of Dan Lindsey at CIRA. All 8-bit displays are limited to 256 different colors. The image below compares 8-bit (McIDAS-X on the left) and 11-bit (McIDAS-V on the right) displays at 1530 UTC.

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm) image at 1530 UTC, as viewed using 8-bit McIDAS-X (left) and 11-bit McIDAS-V (right) displays [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm) image at 1530 UTC, as viewed using 8-bit McIDAS-X (left) and 11-bit McIDAS-V (right) displays [click to enlarge]

Here is a toggle from AWIPS that compares 11-bit and 8-bit displays. The feature causing the turbulence is quite subtle, and 11-bit displays (which allow 2048 different colors) are necessary to accurately show it.

 

Blizzard impacts North Dakota and Minnesota

December 8th, 2016 |

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with hourly surface weather symbols [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with hourly surface weather symbols [click to play animation]

A major winter storm produced widespread blizzard conditions in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota (as well as far northern South Dakota) as low pressure deepened (3-hourly surface analyses) while moving from South Dakota across Minnesota (and eventually over Ontario and western Quebec) during the 05 December08 December 2016 period. Storm total snowfall amounts included 16.0 inches in Montana, 19.0 inches in North Dakota and 13.9 inches in Minnesota; peak wind gusts were as high as 63 knots (72 mph) in South Dakota, 56 knots (64 mph) in North Dakota and 37 knots (43 mph) in Minnesota (KBIS PNS | KFGF PNS | WPC storm summary). In North Dakota, nearly the entire portion of both Interstates 94 and 29 were closed. The large size of the storm could be seen on GOES-13 (GOES-East) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images (above).

A closer view using GOES-13 Water Vapor imagery with overlays of hourly reports of surface winds and wind gusts (below) showed that wind speeds remained strong enough to create travel-restricting blowing snow over eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota even into the early hours of 08 December (due to the continuing strong pressure gradient between the large low in Canada and the arctic high that was moving into Montana and Wyoming.

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with hourly surface winds (yellow) and wind gusts in knots (red) [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with hourly surface winds (yellow) and wind gusts in knots (red) [click to play animation]

In the wake of the storm on 09 December, a southeastward flow of cold arctic air (with surface air temperatures in the 0 to -15º F range) over the still-unfrozen water of Lake Sakakawea (which exhibited MODIS Sea Surface Temperature values as warm as 37.9º F) caused lake effect cloud bands to form and extend downwind of the lake — these cloud bands were very evident in a comparison of 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (below). In the false-color image, snow/ice appears as shades of cyan, in contrast to supercooled water droplet clouds which appear as shades of white. The 1.6 µm snow/ice band used to create the MODIS false-color image will also be available with the ABI instrument on the GOES-R series (beginning with GOES-16).

Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

With a fresh, deep snow cover and cold arctic air in place, strong nocturnal radiational cooling allowed North Dakota to experience its first -30º F low temperatures of the season on the morning of 10 December. Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature values at 0939 UTC or 3:39 am local time (below) were as cold as -39º F (darker violet color enhancement) near the sites that reported the -30º F low temperatures.

Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

50th anniversary of the launch of ATS-1, the first geostationary satellite

December 6th, 2016 |

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of ATS-1 on 06 December 1966. ATS-1 was the first meteorological satellite to be placed into a geostationary orbit — an example of one of the first ATS-1 visible images is seen below, and QuickTime movies are available which show animations of some early ATS-1 images. More information is available from SSEC and NOAA/NESDIS.

ATS-1 visible image (11 December 1966)

ATS-1 visible image (11 December 1966)