Early-season winter storm in the Northern Plains

October 12th, 2019 |

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly surface weather type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly surface weather type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

With the approach of an anomalously-deep 500 hPa low, an early-season winter storm produced very heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions across the Northern Plains — particularly in central/eastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba — during the 10 October12 October 2019 period. GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (above) showed the long duration of precipitation across that region. Text listings of snowfall totals and wind gusts are available from WPC, NWS Bismarck and NWS Grand Forks (more complete storm summaries: NWS Bismarck | NWS Grand Forks). The highest storm total snowfall amount in far southern Manitoba was 32 inches south of Morten (which reported a snow depth of 30 inches on the morning of 12 October), with 30 inches in central North Dakota at Harvey.

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) displayed the storm during the daylight hours on 10/11/12 October.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images on 10/11/12 October, with hourly precipitation type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images on 10/11/12 October, with hourly precipitation type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

On 11 October, GOES-16 Visible images with an overlay of GLM Flash Extent Density (below) revealed intermittent clusters of lightning activity over northwestern Minnesota, northeastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba — while no surface stations explicitly reported a thunderstorm, NWS Grand Forks received calls from the public about thundersnow. The texture of cloud tops in the Visible imagery also supported the presence of embedded convective elements, which likely enhanced snowfall rates as they pivoted across that area. An animation of GOES-16 Visible imagery with plots of GLM Groups and surface weather type is available here.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with an overlay of GLM Flash Extent Density [click to play animation | MP4]

Note that this lightning-producing convection was occurring near the leading edge of the cyclone’s mid-tropospheric dry slot, as seen in GOES-16 Water Vapor imagery (below).

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, right) images, with GLM Groups plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, right) images, with GLM Groups plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

One important aspect of this storm was the formation of a TROugh of Warm air ALoft or TROWAL (SHyMet | Martin, 1998) as the surface low began to enter its occluded phase on 11 October — contours of Equivalent Potential Temperature along the 295 K isentropic surface (below) helped to diagnose the axis of the TROWAL as it curved cyclonically from southwestern Ontario to southern Manitoba and then southward over North Dakota.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K equivalent potential temperature contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K Equivalent Potential Temperature contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

A similar animation with contours of 295 K specific humidity (below) also displayed the orientation of a west-to-east cross section B-B’ (green) across northern Northern Minnesota and northern Minnesota.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K Specific Humidity contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K Specific Humidity contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

The Line B-B’ cross section at 16 UTC (with and without contours of Equivalent Potential Temperature) is shown below. Note the deep column of upward vertical velocity (highlighted by color shading of Omega) centered over Langdon, North Dakota — the moist TROWAL airstream can be seen sloping isentropically upward and westward behind the 3 g/kg Specific Humidity contour, as it approached the region of upward vertical motion. Langdon received 27 inches of snowfall; the prolonged southward passage of the TROWAL over North Dakota likely contributed to this accumulation.

Cross section of RAP40 model fields along Line B-B' at 16 UTC [click to enlarge]

Cross section of RAP40 model fields along Line B-B’ at 16 UTC [click to enlarge]

As the storm was gradually winding down on 12 October, its circulation exhibited a very broad middle-tropospheric signature on GOES-16 Water Vapor imagery (below).

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with surface frontal positions [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with surface frontal positions [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 17 October Update =====

Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

After the area had already experienced its wettest Fall season on record, additional rainfall and snowmelt from this winter storm exacerbated ongoing flooding problems. A comparison of 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (source) centered over northeastern North Dakota (above) revealed flooding along the Red River (which flows northward along the North Dakota / Minnesota border) — water appears as darker shades of blue in the False Color image.

A Suomi NPP VIIRS Flood Product depicting floodwater fractions in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks ND (as visualized using RealEarth) is shown below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Flood Product, depicting floodwater fractions in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks, ND [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Flood Product, depicting floodwater fractions in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks, ND [click to enlarge]

===== 18 October Update =====

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

On 18 October — 1 week after the height of the historic blizzard — GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images showed significant snow cover (brighter shades of green) remaining in parts of northeastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba that received the highest storm total snowfall accumulations (for example, 32″ south of Morden MB, 29″ at Vang ND, 28″ at Olga ND and 27″ at Langdon ND). The site south of Morden MB reported a residual snow depth of 10 inches that morning.

Severe thunderstorms in Arizona

September 23rd, 2019 |

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 (GOES-West) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (above) showed the development of severe thunderstorms over southern/central Arizona from 1600-1900 UTC on 23 September 2019. The far western storm exhibited a well-defined Above-Anvil Cirrus Plume (AACP) that extended northeastward from the cold overshooting top (whose coldest infrared brightness temperature was -74ºC); note that the AACP feature appeared colder (shades of yellow to orange) on the Infrared images (for example, at 1817 UTC).

As the western storm began to weaken somewhat, a new storm just to the east (located about 20-30 miles north-northeast of the Phoenix metro area) began to intensify, prompting the issuance of a Tornado Warning at 1914 UTC (the last tornado warning issued by NWS Phoenix was 21 January 2010) — a brief EF0 tornado was documented (NWS Phoenix summary).

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

Much of the moisture helping to fuel the development of this severe convection was from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lorena in the East Pacific Ocean — the northward transport of this moisture could be seen using the hourly MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (below).

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to play animation | MP4]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to play animation | MP4]


 

GOES-17 ABI Band 13 (10.35 µm) Clean Window Imagery and Derived Convective Available Potential Energy, 1501 – 1856 UTC on 23 September 2019 (Click to animate)

 

Stability parameters from GOES-16 showed that the reigon of thunderstorm development was just east of a strong gradient in Convective Available Potential Energy.  The animation above shows the GOES-17 Clean Window;  in regions of clear sky, the baseline Derived Stability Index CAPE is shown.  CAPE values are zero over much of California (except for the southeasternmost corner) but they increase rapidly over Arizona to values approaching 1000 J/kg.

On 23 September, skies were clear enough that an instability signal was obvious in the clear-sky baseline CAPE. An ‘All-Sky’ product has been developed that can be used on days with more widespread cloudiness; it is available at this link. Values of All-Sky CAPE at 1156 and 1556 UTC on 23 September are shown below, and they also show a sharp gradient in the instability, and the link down to moisture from Lorena’s remants.

‘All-Sky’ values of Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) at 1156 and 1556 UTC on 23 September 2019 (Click to enlarge)

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere is a product designed to indicate the likelihood that a given object will produce severe weather within the next 60 minutes. An animation of the product at 5-minute intervals, below, shows that the right-moving radar cell (also associated, as noted above, with an AACP) that developed over far southwestern Arizona (becoming a warned storm at 1647 UTC) was very likely to produce severe weather.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere from 16:30 UTC to 18:00 UTC. Contours surrounding radar objects are color-coded such that pink/magenta contours are the highest probability.  Warning polygons (yellow for severe thunderstorm) are also shown (Click to enlarge)

Parameters that are used to determine the probability can be revealed at the ProbSevere site by mousing over the colored object contours.  The values for the warned storm over SW Arizona are shown below at 1650 UTC, 3 minutes after the warning was issued.  This image shows the 1710 UTC readout with the highest ProbWind value (76%); this image shows the 1725 UTC readout with the highest ‘ProbHail’ value (99%); ProbTor values on this day were not exceptionally large — for the later tornado-warned storm farther east, they were 28% at 1915 UTC and 30% at 1920 UTC.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere display from 1650 UTC on 23 September 2019; parameters used in the probability computation, and Severe Thunderstorm Warning polygon parameters are also shown (Click to enlarge)

CIMSS is developing a machine-learning tool that combines ABI and GLM imagery (that is, only satellite data) to identify regions where supercellular thunderstorms capable of producing severe weather might be occurring. An mp4 animation for this event (courtesy John Cintineo, CIMSS) is shown below.  (This experimental product was also shown in this blog post)

Record 24-hour rainfall in Nome, Alaska

August 3rd, 2019 |

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to play animation | MP4]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to play animation | MP4]

The MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product (above) showed a northward-moving atmospheric river that was responsible for producing a record 24-hour rainfall amount of 2.47 inches (62.7 mm) ending at 10 pm AKDT on 02 August (06 UTC on 03 August 2019). Some of the poleward transport of moisture was aided by the approach of a Gale Force low (surface analyses).

Blended TPW values reached 2.7 inches near Nome at 1537 UTC on 02 August — and broad areas of TPW greater than 200% of normal (yellow) were seen across the Bering Sea as the atmospheric river approached the Seward Peninsula (below).

Blended Total Precipitable Water and Percent of Normal [click to play animation | MP4]

Blended Total Precipitable Water and Percent of Normal TPW [click to play animation | MP4]

In a plot of surface data from Nome, Alaska over the 02-03 August period (below), heavy rain was reported at 1222 UTC on 02 August.

Time series of surface data from Nome, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface data from Nome, Alaska [click to enlarge]

A plot of rawinsonde data from Nome at 12 UTC on 02 August (below) revealed a TPW value of 37.7 mm (1.48 inches), which is among the top 10 TPW amounts on record for that site.

Plot of rawinsonde data from Nome at 12 UTC on 02 August [click to enlarge]

Plot of rawinsonde data from Nome at 12 UTC on 02 August [click to enlarge]

Monsoon moisture and thunderstorms across the Southwest US

July 25th, 2019 |

GOES-16 Total Precipitable Water product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Total Precipitable Water product [click to play animation | MP4]

The GOES-16 Total Precipitable Water product (above) highlighted the northward surge of monsoon moisture across portions of the Southwest US on 25 July 2019. TPW values as high as 2.0-2.1 inches were seen over the California/Arizona border early in the day, and also over far southeastern California and southwestern Arizona later in the day. The TPW value of 1.56 inches as derived from 12 UTC Las Vegas rawinsonde data was a record maximum for 25 July (below)and the TPW value of 1.76 inches at Phoenix was above the 90th percentile of the climatological average for the date.

Plot of Total Precipitable Water climatology for Las Vegas, Nevada [click to enlarge]

Plot of Total Precipitable Water climatology for Las Vegas, Nevada [click to enlarge]

Overlapping GOES-17 (GOES-West) Mesoscale Domain Sectors provided imagery at 30-second intervals from 1445-2100 UTC — and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) showed the development of thunderstorms across the region during that period. Many of these storms produced heavy rainfall, prompting the issuance of numerous Flash Flood Warnings in California, Nevada and Arizona (with a Dust Storm Advisory being issued due to thunderstorm outflow in Arizona).

GOES-17

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]