08 October 1997 -- Satellite Signatures of Turbulence Over Colorado

GOES-8 water vapor image

GOES-8 IR channel 3 (water vapor)

GOES-8 IR image

GOES-8 IR channel 4

Water vapor image animation: Java | QuickTime

GOES-8 IR imagery from the morning of 08 October 1997 revealed a train of standing waves over central Colorado. IR channel 3 (water vapor) imagery shows the standing waves more clearly (left) as alternating dry (descending) and moist (ascending) pockets of air, while the standard IR channel 4 shows some evidence of billow wave clouds (right). These waves formed as strong winds associated with a jet streak passed over the high terrain of the Colorado Rockies. The winds were roughly perpendicular to the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, which is oriented NW-SE across southcentral Colorado -- the train of standing waves appears to originate from that region.

The appearance of such standing waves on water vapor imagery can often indicate areas of significant clear air turbulence, and moderate to severe turbulence was reported by aircraft flying over the region. In addition, a single-engine Cessna aircraft carrying 9 persons crashed west of Montrose, Colorado on that morning.

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