Outbreak of severe thunderstorms from Texas to Nebraska

May 17th, 2019 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) highlighted the development a large and long-lived supercell thunderstorm that produced tornadoes and large hail (SPC storm reports) from northwestern Kansas to central Nebraska on 17 May 2019. Of note were the large number of tornado and large hail reports around 2259 UTC. Later in the day, concentric gravity waves were evident along the thunderstorm anvil top (for example, at 0022 UTC).

The corresponding GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (below) revealed numerous overshooting tops that exhibited infrared brightness temperatures as cold as -70ºC (black enhancement).

GOES-16 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

After the first round of severe weather from Kansas to Nebraska, additional supercell thunderstorms developed which produced tornadoes/hail/winds across southwestern and central Kansas into the nighttime hours (below).

GOES-16 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with plots of SPC Storm Reports [click to play MP4 animation]

Farther to the south (and earlier in the day) over West Texas, an isolated supercell thunderstorm formed near Fort Stockton — 5-minute GOES-16 Visible and Infrared images (above) showed the development of this storm. Note the northeastward drift of an orphan anvil beginning at 1941 UTC, about 30 minutes prior to the formation of the thunderstorm that went on to produce a tornado and large hail; the appearance of an orphan anvil often signals the nearly-complete erosion of a capping temperature inversion aloft that had been acting to suppress deep convection. The erosion of the capping inversion was evident in a comparison of 12 UTC and 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Midland (KMAF).

Once the thunderstorm had developed, an Above-Anvil Cirrus Plume was also apparent in the Visible and Infrared imagery (for example, at 2236 UTC and 0101 UTC) — and this AACP feature was *colder* (shades of orange to red) than the adjacent storm top, due to the temperature profile above the equilibrium level/tropopause.

A GOES-17 (GOES-West) Mesoscale Domain Sector had been positioned over the region, providing 1-minute imagery of the storm development (below). The viewing angle from GOES-17 allowed the storm’s flanking line cloud bands to be seen.

GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) and "Clean" Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with plots of SPC Storm Reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with plots of SPC Storm Reports [click to play MP4 animation]

A 2-panel comparison of GOES-17 and GOES-16 Visible images is shown below; those images are displayed in the native projection of each satellite (in contrast to being remapped to a common projection, as with the AWIPS images shown above).

“Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images from GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right), with SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]