Eruption of the Pavlof Volcano in Alaska

June 25th, 2013
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, the Pavlof Volcano began to experience a vigorous eruption around 06:50 UTC on 25 June 2013. As daylight arrived a few hours later, the volcanic plume (which contained some ash) was evident on McIDAS images of 1-km resolution GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation). The high-altitude portion of the volcanic plume was estimated to be around 28,000 feet above sea level — this darker-gray plume could be seen drifting northwestward above the lower-altitude clouds over the southern Bering Sea.

During the early morning, a warm thermal anomaly of 42.85º C (darker black enhancement) could be seen at the location of the volcano on a 4-km resolution GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel image at 14:45 UTC (below).

GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel image

GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel image

Even with a very large oblique viewing alngle from the Japanese MTSAT-2 satallite, the volcanic cloud and plume rising from the Pavlof Volcano (denoted by the letter “P”) could be seen on a visible channel image at 15:01 UTC (below).

MTSAT-2 visible image

MTSAT-2 visible image

Flooding in Alberta, Canada

June 21st, 2013
GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images with plots of surface weather (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images with plots of surface weather (click image to play animation)

Very heavy rainfall in much of southwestern Alberta (upwards of 200 mm or 7.9 inches) caused severe flooding in the Calgary (YYC) area beginning on 19 June and 20 June 2013. A sequence of McIDAS images of hourly GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed three distinct pulses of moisture that moved across the YYC region during the 18 June – 21 June period. The circulation around an area of low pressure that was moving slowly across the northwestern US (below) allowed deep tropospheric moisture to be transported eastward against the high terrain of the Rocky Mountains, which was a factor in producing such heavy precipitation amounts.

Water vapor image composites + ECMWF model 500 hPa geopotential heights

Water vapor image composites + ECMWF model 500 hPa geopotential heights

 

Blended Total Precipitable Water product

Blended Total Precipitable Water product

The Blended Total Precipitable Water product (above) showed TPW values as high as 31 mm or 1.2 inches over much of the region on the morning of 20 June — these TPW values were 190-200% above normal for this area and this time of the year (below).

Blended Total Precipitable Water Percent of Normal product

Blended Total Precipitable Water Percent of Normal product

Summer Solstice in Alaska

June 21st, 2013
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 (GOES-West) 0.63 µm visible channel images (above; click image to play animation) showed the cloud features over much of Alaska on 21 June 2013 (the day of the summer solstice). Record heat had been occurring across much of Alaska during the previous week, and Barrow (BRW) had a daily record high temperature of 62 F on 20 June. Note that there were numerous thunderstorms that developed over the Brooks Range and even over the North Slope regions of Alaska — on 20 June, over 4000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were detected. The haziness seen early in the animation was due to widespread smoke from wildfires that had been burning in southwestern Alaska a few days earlier.

West Fork and East Park fires in southern Colorado

June 20th, 2013

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel and 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images (click image to play animation)

Two large fires burning in southern Colorado began to produce pyrocumulonimbus clouds and very large smoke plumes, as seen on GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel (top panels) and 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (bottom panels)  on 19 June (above; click image to play animation) and on 20 June 2012 (below; click image to play animation). The larger fire on the left is the West Fork Complex, while the smaller fire on the right is the East Park fire.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel and 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images (click image to play animation)

A comparison of AWIPS images of POES AVHRR 0.86 µm visible channel, Cloud Top Temperature (CTT) product, and Cloud Top Height (CTH) product at 21:25 UTC (below) showed that CTT values just downstream of the fire source were as cold as -60 C (darker red color enhancement), where CTH values were as high as 12 km (darker green color enhancement).

POES AVHRR visible channel image, Cloud Top Temperature product, and Cloud Top Height product

POES AVHRR visible channel image, Cloud Top Temperature product, and Cloud Top Height product

Some photos of the West Fork Complex pyrocumulonimbus clouds are shown below, from the Wildfire Today site.

Photo of West Fork Complex fire

Photo of West Fork Complex fire

 ===== 21 June Update =====

GOES-15 (left panels) and GOES-13 (right panels) visible and shortwave IR channel  images (click image to play animation)

The West Fork fire complex continued to burn at an explosive rate on 21 June — a comparison of GOES-15 (left panels) and GOES-13 (right panels) 0.63 µm visible channel and 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images ((above; click image to play animation) showed two very large smoke plumes with pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) clouds forming near the source of the fires.

A layer of high cirrus clouds began to move over the fire region later in the afternoon and early evening (01 UTC satellite images), masking the view of the pyroCb clouds and smoke plumes; however, the fire “hot spots” (red enhanced pixels) could still be sensed through the veil of high clouds. At around 01:04 UTC, a fantastic photo (photo 2 | photo 3 | photo 4) of the fire was taken by Luis Rosa (NWS San Juan Puerto Rico) from a passenger aircraft flying at 35,000 feet which showed the northernmost pyroCb cloud — likely the Papoose Fire –  beneath the cirrus cloud layer (below).

Aerial view of pyrocumulonimbus cloud associated with the West Fork Fire Complex

Aerial view of pyrocumulonimbus cloud associated with the West Fork Fire Complex