Strong early-season storm in the North Pacific

September 23rd, 2014
GOES-15 6.5 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 6.5 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

The GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel imagery above showed the development and evolution of a strong mid-latitude cyclone in the eastern North Pacific Basin during the 21-23 September 2014 time period; of particular interest was the development of strong subsidence behind the storm (depicted by brighter shades of yellow), and also a second jet starting to approach the storm from the west (as evidenced by increasing cold cloud tops in the base of the trough at the end of the animation). A closer view of the storm using AWIPS II imagery is available here. The strong storm had access to abundant sub-tropical moisture, as depicted in the MIMIC Total Precipitable Water animation below.

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (click to enlarge)

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (click to enlarge)

The ASCAT Scatterometer that flies on METOP gives routine observations of surface winds over the ocean. A large area of storm-force winds (in red) was depicted in the image below (from 0630 UTC on 23 September), overlain on the GOES-15 Water Vapor imagery.

 GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel image and ASCAT winds, 0630 UTC on 23 September (click to enlarge)

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel image and ASCAT winds, 0630 UTC on 23 September (click to enlarge)

A comparison of 4-km resolution GOES-15 6.5 µm and 1-km resolution Aqua MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel images at 11:30 UTC, below, demonstrated the benefit of higher spatial resolution for providing a more accurate display of the water vapor gradients and various small-scale features (such as transverse banding associated with cold clouds to the north of the storm), along with the polar-orbiter image elimination of geostationary parallax error for more more precise feature location.

GOES-15 6.5 µm and Aqua MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

GOES-15 6.5 µm and Aqua MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

The GOES sounder Total Column Ozone product, below, showed an increase in ozone values (350-380 Dobson Units, darker green to lighter green color enhancement) as the tropopause was lowered in the vicinity of the deepening mid-latitude cyclone.

GOES sounder Total Column Ozone product (click to play animation)

GOES sounder Total Column Ozone product (click to play animation)

A Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image from the SSEC RealEarth web map server, below, provided a good view of the lower-level clouds associated with the storm.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image

For a more detailed analysis of this event from the Ocean Prediction Center perspective, see the Satellite Liaison Blog.

The King Fire in California

September 19th, 2014
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

The King Fire began burning in central California (between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe) during the evening hours on 13 September 2014. A sequence of daily (12-19 September) Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC RealEarth web map server site (above) showed that as the prevailing southwesterly wind pattern switched to easterly on 19 September, there was a major change in the transport of smoke from the King Fire. The final image in the series zooms out to show how much of central California had become over-run with thick smoke.

A comparison of AWIPS-II images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR image at 09:18 UTC or 2:18 AM local time (below) revealed the bright glow of the large fire complex, along with the large fire “hot spot” signature (black to yellow to red color enhancement).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images during the overnight hours (just after 2 AM local time) on 17 and 18 September (below) showed the dramatic northeastward advance of the fire hot spot signature during that 24-hour period. Smoke from the fire was reducing the surface visibility to 3-4 miles as far to the northeast as Lovelock (KLOL) and Fallon (KNFL) in Nevada.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

GOES Cloud Top Cooling Rate product used for SPC Mesoscale Discussion

September 17th, 2014
Storm Prediction Center Mesoscale Discussion #1724

Storm Prediction Center Mesoscale Discussion #1724

Using the GOES-R Cloud Top Cooling Rate product (applied to GOES-13 data), the Storm Prediction Center issued a Mesoscale Discussion (above) highlighting the risk of strong thunderstorms producing hail and/or strong wind gusts over parts of the Georgia/South Carolina border region on 17 September 2014. According to the SPC storm reports, there was hail up to 1.0 inch in diameter in addition to some tree and power line damage in southern South Carolina.

AWIPS II image combinations of the Cloud Top Cooling (CTC) rate product (colors) and the GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel gray-scale images  (below; click image to play animation) showed that CTC rate values for the storm north of Augusta, Georgia (KAGS) at 19:00 UTC were as high as -16º C per 15 minutes; at 19:15 UTC, the CTC rate value for that storm was as high as -39º C per 15 minutes. The first Severe Thunderstorm Warning for this storm was later issued at 19:34 UTC.

Cloud Top Cooling Rate (colors) and GOES-13 10.7 µm IR (grayscale) images [click to play animation]

Cloud Top Cooling Rate (colors) and GOES-13 10.7 µm IR (grayscale) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images (below; click image to play animation) showed the rapidly cooling cloud-top IR brightness temperatures associated with these thunderstorms as they moved southeastward and intensified: the coldest value for the aforementioned thunderstorm was -40º C at 19:00 UTC, dropping to -62º C by 20:45 UTC.

GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images [click to play animation]

About an hour later, another Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued at 20:30 UTC for a storm near and south of Orangeburg, South Carolina (KOGB).

Hurricane Odile

September 15th, 2014
Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) plot for Hurricane Odile

Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) plot for Hurricane Odile

A time series plot of the Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) intensity estimate for Hurricane Odile (above) showed that the tropical cyclone went through a period of rapid intensification on 14 September 2014, reaching Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale as it moved northwestward toward the southern tip of Baja California (Odile track map).

McIDAS images of GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel data covering the 13-15 September period (below; click image to play animated GIF; also available as an MP4 movie file) showed Odile from the period of rapid intensification on the 14th to landfall on the 15th. Odile made landfall near Cabo San Lucas around 04:45 UTC on 15 September, with an estimated intensity of 110 knots — this ties with Hurricane Olivia (1967) as the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Baja California Sur during the modern satellite era.

GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel images (click to play animated GIF)

GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel images (click to play animated GIF)

Several hours prior to landfall, a comparison of GOES-15 10.7 µm IR and DMSP SSMIS 85 GHz microwave images from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below) indicated that Odile had a large outer eyewall at that particular point in time.

GOES-14 10.7 µm IR channel image and DMSP SSMIS 85 GHz microwave image

GOES-14 10.7 µm IR channel image and DMSP SSMIS 85 GHz microwave image

Even after several hours of traversing the rugged terrain of the Baja California peninsula, Odile continued to maintain hurricane intensity; the faint signature of an eye could still be seen on AWIPS II images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel data at 22:34 UTC on 15 September (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images