Intense mid-latitude cyclone in the North Atlantic Ocean

October 13th, 2014 |
GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

A large mid-latitude cyclone exhibited explosive development over the North Atlantic Ocean (south of Greenland) on 13 October 2014. This storm produced hurricane-force winds, according to surface analyses from the Ocean Prediction Center. GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (above; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) showed the intrusion of very dry air (yellow to orange color enhancement) associated with the approach of a potential vorticity anomaly early in the day, followed by the the cyclone wrapping up after it reached the occluded phase during the afternoon hours.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (below; click image to play animation) revealed the very pronounced signature of cold air advection from the western to the southern quadrants of the storm, in the form of open-cell and closed-cell convective clouds.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Rapidly intensifying mid-latitude cyclone off the East Coast of the US

March 26th, 2014 |
Composite of GOES-15 (GOES-West) and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

Composite of GOES-15 (GOES-West) and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

AWIPS images of a composite of 4-km resolution GOES-15 (GOES-West) and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 6.5 µm water vapor channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the development of a large mid-latitude cyclone off the East Coast of the US on 26 March 2014. This cyclone underwent rapid intensification as it moved northeastward, with the storm’s central pressure deepening 43 hPa in 24 hours and reaching a minimum value of 955 hPa (which was lower than the 960 hPa minimum central pressure of the March 1993 “Storm of the Century”). Wind gusts in excess of 100 mph were observed both on offshore buoys (44027) and at coastal sites: as the storm approached the Canadian Maritimes, Wreckhouse in Newfoundland experienced an all-time record maximum wind gust of 116 mph (186 km/hour).

A closer view of the storm’s evolution on GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel imagery with overlays of buoy reports, cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, and analyzed surface pressure and surface fronts is shown below.

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

McIDAS images of 1-km resolution GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel data (below; click image to play animation) revealed greater detail in the cloud structures near the center of the storm circulation. The appearance of dual vortices can be seen, with the northernmost vortex appearing to be the dominant one associated with the true storm center.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

A night-time view of the storm as it was beginning to intensify off the coast of Virginia at 05:56 UTC or 12:56 AM Eastern Time is seen in a comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band (DNB) and 11.45 µm IR channel images (below). The bright white streaks appearing offshore on the DNB image are portions of the cloud illuminated by intense lightning — and there were a number of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes detected in the vicinity of these DNB lightning streaks.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 05:56 UTC

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 05:56 UTC

As the period of rapid intensification continued off the eastern coast of the US, the GOES-13 sounder Total column Ozone product (animation) depicted very high values (400-450 Dobson Units, shades of red) just south of the storm center at 09:00 UTC, which was a signature of a potential vorticity anomaly (a lowering of the dynamic tropopause caused by an intrusion of dry, ozone-rich stratospheric air into the upper and middle troposphere). According to the GFS40 model, the height of the dynamic tropopause (taken to be the pressure of the PV1.5 surface) had descended to around the 450 hPa level at 06 UTC. The image comparison below shows that this pocket of high ozone was co-located with a pocket of dry middle-tropospheric air on the water vapor imagery, which became even drier with time to the point that it exhibited a light orange color enhancement around 12 UTC on the closer-view GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel image animation seen above.

GOES sounder Total Column Ozone product and GOES imager 6.5 µm water vapor channel data

GOES sounder Total Column Ozone product and GOES imager 6.5 µm water vapor channel data

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel, 11.0 µm IR channel, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images at 15:40 UTC

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel, 11.0 µm IR channel, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images at 15:40 UTC

Daytime views of the storm structure were provided by comparisons of 1-km resolution MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel, 11.0 µm IR channel, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images at 15:40 UTC or 10:40 AM Eastern Time (above) and 17:19 UTC or 12:19 PM Eastern Time (below).

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel, 11.0 µm IR channel, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images at 17:19 UTC

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel, 11.0 µm IR channel, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images at 17:19 UTC

A comparison of 375-meter resolution (projected onto a 1-km AWIPS grid) Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 17:19 UTC or 12:19 PM Eastern Time is shown below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 17:19 UTC

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 17:19 UTC

SSEC RealEarth comparison of GOES-13 IR and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images

SSEC RealEarth comparison of GOES-13 IR and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images

The images above demonstrate using the SSEC RealEarth web map server to compare GOES-13 IR and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images of the storm, zooming in on the true-color image for more detail of dual vortex cloud features near the circulation center. The GOES IR image showed the impressively large size of the overall cloud structure associated with the mid-latitude cyclone.

The large size of the cyclone is also apparent in the VIIRS 1.38 µm imagery shown here. This wavelength highlights ice crystals — that is, high clouds — within the storm.

Additional details and satellite images of this storm can be found on the GOES-R and JPSS Satellite Liaison Blog.

Strong storm off the coast of California

February 28th, 2014 |
GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

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

McIDAS images of 4-km resolution GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel data (above; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 animation) showed the development of a strong and rapidly-occluding storm off the coast of California during the 27 February28 February 2014 period.

An AWIPS image of 17:30 UTC GOES-15 water vapor channel data with overlays of 17:28 UTC Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds and the 18:00 UTC tropical surface analysis (below) showed satellite-sensed surface winds as strong as 51 knots in the southwestern quadrant of the storm.

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel image with ASCAT surface scatterometer winds and surface analysis

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel image with ASCAT surface scatterometer winds and surface analysis

Greater detail in the storm structure could be seen in 1-km resolution MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel images at 10:32 UTC and 21:40 UTC (below).

MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

One indication of the strength of the storm was the high amounts of GOES-15 sounder Total Column Ozone associated with the circulation (below; click image to play animation), which reached levels as high as 440-450 Dobson Units (lighter red color enhancement). Such high levels of total column ozone are also often associated with potential vorticity anomalies and a dramatically lowered tropopause — in this case, the GFS40 model indicated the the dynamic tropopause (taken to be the pressure of the PV1.5 surface) was as below the 480 hPa pressure level at 18:00 UTC. It is interesting to note that there was a pilot report of moderate turbulence at 36,000 feet, along the sharp western gradient of the total column ozone (and the sharp gradient of the PV1.5 pressure) — the pilot noted that the turbulene lasted for 10 minutes.

GOES-15 sounder Total Column Ozone product (click to play animation)

GOES-15 sounder Total Column Ozone product (click to play animation)

A comparison of 375-meter resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 22:08 UTC (below) revealed a few convective elements offshore which exhibited cloud-top IR brightness temperatures as cold as -50º C (yellow color enhancement), with a few cloud-to-ground lightning strikes being detected.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images (with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes)

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images (with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes)

===== 01 March Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band (DNB) and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 10:22 UTC or 2:22 AM local time on 01 March (above) revealed the presence of numerous arc-shaped mesospheric airglow waves in the western semicircle of the storm circulation on the DNB image — note that there was no corresponding wave signature on the IR image.

These vertically-propagating mesospheric airglow waves were likely generated by the 140-knot jet streak that was moving southward around the rear side of the storm  (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image with NAM 250 hPa winds and isotachs

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image with NAM 250 hPa winds and isotachs

Significant winter storm across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest regions

December 9th, 2012 |
GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

A strong winter storm moved across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest regions of the US on 09 December 2012, producing widespread heavy snowfall (HPC storm summary) and creating blizzard conditions that closed a number of roads (including portions of Interstates 90 and 29 in eastern South Dakota). AWIPS images of GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the development of a tightly-curved deformation band across Minnesota during the day — much of the heavier snowfall totals occurred beneath the pivot point of this deformation feature.

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (below; click image to play animation) showed the development of a dry slot along the leading edge of the core of a potential vorticity (PV) anomaly (red contours) that was moving northeastward over southern Minnesota. The approach of this PV anomaly was helping to enhance upward vertical velocities, thereby increasing snowfall rates.

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

A northwest-to-southeast oriented vertical cross section using NAM40 model fields at 21 UTC (below) showed that the PV anomaly was lowering the height of the dynamic tropopause (taken to be the pressure of the PV1.5 surface) down to the 525 millibar level over southern Minnesota.

NAM40 vertical cross section

NAM40 vertical cross section

A comparison of 1-km resolution images of MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel, 11.0 µm IR channel, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel data at 19:48 UTC (below) revealed hints of some subtle banding structure over parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, which was likely helping to enhance snowfall rates over those areas.

MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 11.0 µm IR, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 11.0 µm IR, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

On the back side of the storm, cold arctic air was being drawn southward across wesern North Dakota and South Dakota — and a comparison of a MODIS 0.65 µm visible image with the corresponding false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image using the 2.1 µm “snow/ice channel” (below) revealed small “river-effect cloud bands” forming (most notably over Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota) as this cold air moved over the still-unfrozen waters of the larger reservoirs of the Missouri River. Deeper snow cover appeared as darker shades of red, in contrast to supercooled cloud features which were brighter shades of white.

MODIS 0.65 µm visible image + False-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image

MODIS 0.65 µm visible image + False-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image