GOES-13 was placed into Rapid Scan Operations mode during the evolution of the strong Nor’easter that affected much of New England (HPC storm summary), and the 10.7 µm IR imagery, above (available for download here as an MP4 and here as an animated gif) shows the development of the system over the 2-day period of 26-27 January. Of particular note in the animation is the southeast to northwest motion of cold cloud tops over central and eastern Long Island around 0500 and 0600 UTC on 27 January. Those cold clouds tops never quite made it to western Long Island or to New Jersey, where snow totals were less. The GOES-13 visible image animation for these 2 days is shown below (available for download here as an MP4 and here as an animated gif).
ASCAT microwave data continues to show the surface circulation. The METOP-A overpass at 1513 UTC, below, shows a center about 100 miles southeast of Nantucket, where gusts past hurricane force have been occurring. A large area of winds exceeding 50 knots (in red) is present over the northern Gulf of Maine.
A comparison of 1-km resolution MODIS 0.64 µm visible channel, 11.0 µm IR channel, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images from 17:49 UTC is shown below. One observation of interest is a ship report just southeast of the storm center: 50-knot winds from the south-southwest, with blowing spray reducing surface visibility to 2-3 miles.]]>
Forecasts have been consistent in the past days for a storm of historic proportions over parts of southern New England. What conditions that are present now argue for the development of a strong winter storm? The image above is the GOES Sounder Land Surface Temperature (or “Skin Temperature”) product; cold air is present over southeastern Canada, with surface temperatures near -30 C, associated with a surface high pressure system. The high pressure will act to reinforce the cold air at the surface, preventing or delaying any changeover to liquid or mixed precipitation (a MODIS Land Surface Temperature product at 1500 UTC on 26 January similarly shows cold air banked over southern Canada).
Winds over southern New England early on the 26th continued out of the north and northwest, maintaining cold air at the surface. The ASCAT (from METOP-A) imagery above shows brisk northwesterly winds south of southern New England just before 0100 UTC, with southwesterlies east of Georgia and South Carolina just before 0300 UTC. Those southwesterlies are helping moisten the atmosphere, and heavy snows require abundant moisture. MIMIC Total Precipitation (below; click image to play animation) testifies to the moistening that is occurring off the southeast coast as this system develops; the storm appeared to tap moisture from both the Gulf of Mexico and a pre-existing atmospheric river over the Atlantic Ocean.
[Added: The 1540 UTC ASCAT winds show the surface circulation east of Hatteras and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay! Winds south of New England have shifted to northeasterly. The location of the circulation well off the coast suggests cold air can be maintained over land.]
Given that moisture and cold air are present, what features argue for the development of a strong storm? The GOES-13 water vapor images (below; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes superimposed show the potent system developing off the US East Coast and blossoming over the Gulf Stream as a secondary warm conveyor belt forms (a water vapor image with lightning animation from 25-26 January is available here). Strong sinking motion behind the system is indicated by the development of warm water vapor channel brightness temperatures (yellow color enhancement), and strong rising motion ahead of the system helps to generate widespread, strong convection. Convection also occurred over the Deep South late on 25 January in response to solar heating. The system depicted in the Water Vapor imagery is obviously quite vigorous.
Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel and 0.64 µm visible channel images (below) showed that there was a great deal of convective banding within the secondary warm conveyor belt.
Total Column Ozone is frequently used as a proxy of tropopause folding; tropopause folds accompany very strong storm development and the vertical circulation associated with the potential vorticity anomaly (maximum) associated with the folding draws stratospheric ozone down into the troposphere. GOES Sounder Total Column Ozone derived product images (below; click to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) show that the dynamic tropopause — taken to be the pressure of the PV1.5 surface, red contours — descends below the 400-450 hPa level along the southern gradient of the higher ozone values (green to red color enhancement) as the potential vorticity anomaly pivots eastward along the Gulf Coast states and then northeastward toward the intensifying storm. The presence of clouds prevented ozone retrievals over many areas, but some ozone values over 400 Dobson Units (red color enhancement) could be seen, which is characteristic of stratospheric air.
As the storm approached New England, a MODIS 11.0 µmIR channel image (below) revealed the presence of widespread embedded convective elements within the broad cloud shied, with some cloud-top IR brightness temperatures as cold as -65ºC (darker red color enhancement). These pockets of convection could enhance snowfall rates once they moved inland.
An overlay of the RTMA surface winds (below) helped to locate the position of the surface low east of the Delmarva Peninsula. That position agrees well with ASCAT winds from 0158 UTC on 27 January.
A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band (DNB) and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 06:39 UTC or 1:39 AM Eastern time is shown below. With illumination from the Moon in the Waxing Gibbous phase (at about 60% of Full), the DNB provided a “visible image at night” which showed the expansive offshore “comma cloud” of the storm, along with the locations of bright cloud illumination from dense lightning activity (note the bright lightning signature east of Cape Cod, which corresponded well with a cluster of positive cloud-to-ground lightning strokes). Numerous pockets of convective development were seen well off the coast of North and South Carolina, due to strong cold air advection over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.]]>
With a cloud-free sky and light winds under a dome of high pressure, strong radiational cooling over a deep snowpack allowed the overnight low temperature to drop to -47º F (-43.9º C) at Wabush Lake (station identifier CYWK) in far western Labrador — this was quite possibly the coldest site in North America on 22 January 2015 (the coldest overnight low temperature in Alaska that morning was -39º F or -39.4º C at Galena). AWIPS images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel data (above) and MODIS 11.0 µm IR channel data (below) showed minimum surface IR brightness temperatures of -47º C or -52.6º F (darker blue color enhancement) in the western Labrador.
A comparison of 1-km resolution Soumi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm and 4-km resolution GOES-13 10.7 µm IR images (below) showed the advantage of higher spatial resolution for more accurately locating the coldest regions.]]>
The Chinese Meteorological Satellite FY-2G was launched on 31 December 2014 from Xichang Launch Center in Sichuan Province. It has achieved Geostationary Orbit at 99.5º E and its first full disk Color Composite image, above, from 8 January 2015, has been released.
For more information on FY-2G, click here. FY-2G is the eventual replacement for FY-2E at 105º E.]]>
A sequence of four AWIPS images of the Suomi NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product (above) showed very detailed information about the SST patterns in the Gulf of Mexico on 21 January 2015. Two features in particular are worth noting: (1) what appears to be a train of Kelvin-Helmholtz instability waves along one of the northern boundaries of the Loop Current (best seen on the 06:52 UTC image), and (2) a small-scale cyclonic eddy located between the far northern edge of the Loop Current and the Mississippi River Delta. On the final 19:57 UTC image, SST values in the general region of this small-scale eddy ranged from 46.7º F at the Mississippi River Delta (cyan color enhancement) to 79.7º F (darker red color enhancement) near the northern edge of the Loop Current – a difference of 33º F within a distance of only about 100 miles.]]>
AWIPS images of the MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (above; click image to play animation) showed a broad moist plume in the equatorial South Pacific Ocean, within which Tropical Storm Niko began to develop during the 19 January – 20 January 2015 period. By the end of the animation, Gale Force winds were being analyzed within the eastern semicircle of the developing cyclone. Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds at 08:01 UTC (below) showed winds as strong as 42 knots (though the direction of the stronger yellow wind barbs was suspect, likely due to rain contamination).
After daybreak on 20 January, McIDAS images of GOES-15 (GOES-West) 0.63 µm visible channel data (below; click image to play animation) showed the development of spiral banding wrapping into the central low-level circulation center as the system reached tropical storm intensity by 18 UTC. In addition, a few strong convective pulses with distinct overshooting tops could be seen near the core of Niko.
An animation of GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel images from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below) included an overlay of contours of the deep layer (200 – 850 hPa) wind shear at 18 UTC — Tropical Storm Niko developed in a region characterized by low wind shear, which enabled the storm to rapidly intensify.]]>
The SSEC RealEarth™ geostationary satellite infrared (IR) image composite shown above (which was first sent out via Twitter by Stu Ostro of The Weather Channel…thanks Stu!) was featured on the NBC Nightly News on 14 January 2015 (link) because it illustrated a vivid example of the trans-Atlantic flow of moisture from a disturbance off the US East Coast to a rapidly-deepening storm approaching the British Isles (surface analysis maps | water vapor images with surface analyses).
A sequence of hourly geostationary satellite water vapor channel image composites (below; click to play animation) showed that there was a clear trans-Atlantic connection in terms of middle to upper tropospheric moisture/clouds, and a comparison of the 20 UTC water vapor image with the corresponding MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product indicated that there was a lower to middle tropospheric moisture connection as well. This type of long and narrow fetch of TPW is often referred to as an “atmospheric river”.
Another interesting point brought up during the NBC Nightly News segment was the recent presence of unusually strong trans-Atlantic jet stream winds, which has allowed aircraft flying from New York City to London to set record times in terms of conventional passenger aircraft (such as the 08 January flight of British Airways 114). Note the strong dry-to-moist (darker blue to white to green color enhancement) along the northern edge of the trans-Atlantic water vapor image moisture feed: such a moisture gradient often coincides with the axis of a strong jet stream. AWIPS images of water vapor imagery with overlays of MADIS cloud-tracked and water-vapor-tracked winds (below; click image to play animation) showed many high-altitude wind vectors in the vicinity of the jet stream moisture gradient with speeds in the 150-160 knot range (with 175 knots seen on the previous day).]]>
A plot of the Advanced Dvorak Technique intensity estimate for Tropical Cyclone Bansi (above) showed that the storm experienced a period of rapid intensification late in the day on 12 January 2015, reaching Category 4 intensity by 00 UTC on 13 January.
EUMESAT Metosat-7 11.5 µm IR channel images (below; click to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) revealed the formation of a well-defined eye, which also exhibited a notable amount of trochoidal motion or “wobble” as it moved across the southwest Indian Ocean (north of Reunion and Mascarene Island).
A more detailed view of Tropical Cyclone Bansi was provided by McIDAS-V images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band data (below; credit: William Straka, SSEC) — deep convection with overshooting tops could be seen in the southern quadrant eyewall region, with gravity waves propagating radially outward across the northeastern and eastern portion of the cirrus canopy.
A DMSP SSMIS 85 GHz microwave image from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below) showed that a prominent “moat” of warm brightness temperatures (darker blue color enhancement) existed around the center of Bansi at 14:24 UTC on 13 January. The presence of such a moat usually signifies that the secondary (outer) eyewall formation process has completed, and an eyewall replacement cycle is underway (also signalling that the period of rapid intensification has ended). The moat feature is sustained by subsidence from the eyewall secondary circulations.
Note that there was no well-defined eye evident on the conventional Meteosat-7 IR image during this eyewall replacement cycle (below).]]>
The intense extratropical cyclone referred to in Norway as “Extreme Weather Nina” was described as the strongest storm to hit the western part of that country in 20 years, bringing high winds that caused widespread tree and property damage, disrupted power for an estimated 170,000 people, and halted some forms of transportation on 10 January 2015 (The Nordic Page). EUMETSAT Meteosat-10 6.25 µm water vapor channel images (above; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) showed the well-defined circulation of the storm, which included a “scorpion tail” signature (10 UTC image) over the North Sea west of Norway suggesting that a sting jet feature may have been present. About 3 hours after the leading edge of this middle-tropospheric sting jet signature moved over Haugesund, winds there gusted to 71 knots/36.5 meters per second. Winds gusted as high as 89 knots/45.7 meters per second at the offshore oil platform Gullfax, and the Flesland airport at Bergen was briefly closed due to strong winds (which peaked at 65 knots/33.4 meters per second). In the northern British Isles, wind gusts as strong as 70 knots/36 meters per second were reported on Shetland Island, along with thunderstorms (water vapor image with 4-letter station identifier locations).
Meteosat-10 0.8 µm High Resolution Visible images (below; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) revealed the development of numerous showers and thunderstorms across the southern sector of the storm.
A SSEC RealEarth Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image around 12:00 UTC (below) showed the storm center just off the west coast of Norway.]]>
An Alberta Clipper disturbance quickly moved through the north-central US during the day on 08 January 2014, leaving only light amounts of snowfall (generally 1 inch or less). However, very strong winds in the wake of the system (with gusts as high as 59 mph at Bismarck, North Dakota and 69 mph at Bullhead, South Dakota) produced ground blizzard conditions as the newly-fallen light, fluffy snow was lofted and organized into long horizontal convective roll features. GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images with overlays of METAR surface reports (above; click image to play animation) and overlays of cloud ceilings and surface visibility (below; click image to play animation) distinctly showed the widespread horizontal convective rolls, along with their effect on the weather as they moved near or over various locations.
One question that arises is: are these horizontal convective roll features clouds, or simply highly-concentrated areas of blowing snow, or perhaps a little of both? A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel, 3.74 µm shortwave IR, and 11.45 µm IR images at 19:00 UTC (below) might shed some light on the topic. As seen on the GOES-13 visible images, many of the roll features were tall enough to cast a shadow — this suggests vertical mixing to the top of the boundary layer, which appeared to be about 1 km deep on the morning Bismarck ND rawinsonde report. A few sites reported heavy snow (reducing visibility as low as 0.15 mile) as a horizontal convective roll moved overhead — however, the 11.45 µm IR brightness temperatures were barely colder than -20 to -25º C for even the most well-defined roll features (so their ability to produce heavy snow seems dubious). On the 3.74 µm shortwave IR image, if supercooled water droplet clouds had formed at the top of the roll features, they would appear darker (due to the reflection of solar radiation off the supercooled cloud droplets) — but this is not the case.
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below) demonstrated the value of overlaying Google Maps information, for example to see which highways might be impacted by the larger and more well-organized horizontal convective rolls at that particular time.]]>