Fog/stratus in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

May 20th, 2017 |

** The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing. **

As seen in a Tweet from NWS Seattle/Tacoma (above), a plume of fog/stratus moved rapidly eastward through the Strait of Juan de Fuca on 20 May 2017. A closer view of GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images (below; also available as an MP4 animation) shows the formation of “bow shock waves” as the leading edge of the low-level fog/stratus plume encountered the sharply-angled land surface of Whidbey Island at the far eastern end of the Strait near sunset — surface observations indicated that the visibility at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island was reduced to 0.5 mile just after the time of the final 0327 UTC image in the animation.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation]

A Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image with RTMA surface winds (below) indicated that westerly/northwesterly wind speeds were generally around 15 knots at 21 UTC (just after the primary fog/stratus plume began to move into the western end of the Strait). Four hours later, there was a northwesterly wind gust of 27 knots at Sheringham, British Columbia (CWSP).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) images, with RTMA surface winds plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) images, with RTMA surface winds plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

During the following nighttime hours, a Suomi NPP VIIRS infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11.45 – 3.74 µm) “Fog/Stratus Product” image at 0910 UTC (below) revealed that the fog/stratus plume covered much of the Strait (especially along the Washington coast), and that the leading edge had begun to spread both northward and southward from Whidbey Island. In addition, note the presence of a linear ship track (darker red enhancement) extending southwestward from Cape Flattery.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared brightness temperature difference (11.45 - 3.74 µm)

Suomi NPP VIIRS infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11.45 – 3.74 µm) “Fog/Stratus Product” image, with RTMA surface winds plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Bill Line (NWS Pueblo) showed the nighttime fog/stratus monitoring capability of a GOES-16 infrared Brightness Temperature Difference product:


On a side note, in the upper right portion of the GOES-16 (as well as the VIIRS) visible images one can also see the hazy signature of glacial sediment  flowing from the Fraser River westward into the Strait of Georgia. Longer-term changes in the pattern of this glacial sediment are also apparent in a comparison of Terra MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images (source) from 20 April, 07 May and 20 May 2017 (below).

 

Terra MODIS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]