Flash flooding in southern Wisconsin

August 20th, 2018 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed multiple clusters of convection which developed across far southern Wisconsin during the late afternoon and early evening hours on 20 August 2018, producing very heavy rainfall and flash flooding (with at least one fatality) that was focused in western Dane County (CoCoRaHS | AHPS). As much as 15.33 inches of rain was reported in Cross Plains (Local Storm Reports). which set a new record for 24-hour precipitation in the state of Wisconsin (the old record was 11.72 inches at Mellen in northern Wisconsin on 24 June 1946). Animations of radar base reflectivity and storm total precipitation (courtesy of Pete Pokrandt, UW-AOS) showed that the combination of slow overall motion — and a pivoting of precipitation bands, due to weak flow aloft within a deformation zone (300 hPa analysis) —  and cell mergers played a role in producing the heavy rainfall. There was also an EF-0 tornado at Delavan (NWS Milwaukee summary).

The corresponding 1-minute GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) imagery (below) showed that cloud-top brightness temperatures were generally in the -50º to -60ºC range with these initial areas of convection.

GOES-16 Infrared images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation]

A longer Infrared animation (below) with a different color enhancement (adapted for winter convection) better emphasized the colder cloud tops as convective development persisted into the subsequent overnight hours. Note the absence surface observations from Middleton KC29 after 03 UTC or 10 pm CDT — this was due to an extended power outage to that area and other parts of western Dane County.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (below) revealed the large circulation associated with an occluded low (surface analyses) over the lower Missouri River valley.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

The GOES-16 Total Precipitable Water derived product (below) showed that values of 1.3 to 1.5 inches were being advected northward toward the area.

Composite of GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) imagery and Total Precipitable Water product [click to play MP4 animation]

Composite of GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) imagery and Total Precipitable Water derived product [click to play MP4 animation]

With widespread cloudiness prevailing across much of the Upper Midwest, the CIMSS All-Sky Total Precipitable Water product (below) was helpful to better track the transport of moisture into the region — TPW values of 40-43 mm (1.6-1.7 inches) were seen feeding into southern Wisconsin within a TROWAL airstream around the northern edge of the occluded low pressure system (WPC discussion). The All-Sky products blend GOES ABI clear-sky retrievals with GFS background fields in cloudy regions; these products have been evaluated by the NWS Hazardous Weather Testbed (see here).

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

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

The Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product at 1943 UTC (below) showed TPW values of 40-45 mm (1.6-1.8 inch) on either side of the frontal boundary in northern Illinois.

Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

One example of the hydrologic impact of the heavy rain was seen at the Pheasant Branch Creek USGS gauge (map), where nearly 11 inches of rainfall were recorded. A dramatic time-lapse video showed the rise of the normally-small creek as it inundated the adjacent multi-use path on 21 August.

Pheasant Branch Creek flows into the northwest corner of Lake Mendota, which crested at 852.3 feet on the morning of 22 August. This was the third highest lake elevation on record — and the highest level on record for so late in the calendar year. Portions of the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus adjacent to the lake experienced some impacts due to the high water, as shown on the map below. There were also several road closures in Madison due to high water.

Map of flood impacts for portions of the UW-Madison campus adjacent to the southwestern shoreline of Lake Mendota [click to enlarge]

Map of flood impacts for portions of the UW-Madison campus adjacent to the southwestern shoreline of Lake Mendota [click to enlarge]

Farther downstream on the Yahara River chain of lakes, Lake Waubesa reached its 100-year flood level on 22 August.

 

Convection and Flooding over northern Wisconsin

June 17th, 2018 |

GOES-16 ABI Clean Window (10.3 µm) Infrared Imagery, 0200-0559 UTC on 17 June 2018 (Click to animate)

Persistent convection over northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and upper Michigan late Saturday (16 June)/early Sunday (17 June) caused significant flooding.  The animation above shows GOES-16 ABI “Clean Window” Infrared Imagery from 0200-0600 UTC on 17 June.  Note the persistence of the cold overshooting tops over western Bayfield County in northwestern Wisconsin! A longer Infrared animation (0110-1200 UTC) which includes hourly plots of precipitation type (yellow) and SPC storm reports of damaging winds (cyan) is available here. 7-day precipitation departures in some areas were 4 to 8 inches above normal for that period (or 600% of normal).

This link from Wisconsin Emergency Management shows aerial pictures of the flood damage. Of note is the break in US Highway 2 to the west of Ashland WI.

The heavy rains also affected runoff into Lake Superior. MODIS imagery, below, from the MODIS Today site (also available from RealEarth: Link), shows considerable offshore flow of sediment on 19 June (a similar image from 18 June is here, with a toggle between the 2 days here).

True-Color Imagery from Aqua MODIS on 19 June 2018 (Click to enlarge)

A Landsat-8 False-Color image, below, showed pockets of flooding (darker blue) adjacent to the Nemadji River in Superior WI on the morning of 19 June — water also cover a portion of US Highway 2/53. The Nemadji River had crested in Superior at a record 29.5 feet on the evening of 17 June (NWS Duluth summary).

Landsat-8 False-Color image (Click to enlarge)

False-Color image from Landsat-8 on 19 June 2018 (Click to enlarge)


============================ Added 22 June ==============================
 

NOAA’s Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center (Link) created an Exceedance Probability Analysis for this event at 6-hour, 24-hour and 72-hout time spans, available here (from this link). Probabilities suggest this was an exceedingly rare event.

The continuation of sediment flow into Lake Superior could be seen in a series of daily MODIS True-Color images here.

Atmospheric river events bring heavy precipitation to California

January 13th, 2017 |

MIMIC Total Precipatable Water product [click to play MP4 animation]

MIMIC Total Precipatable Water product [click to play MP4 animation]

A series of 3 atmospheric river events brought heavy rainfall and heavy snowfall to much of California during the first 10 days of January 2017 (NWS San Francisco/Monterey | WeatherMatrix blog). Hourly images of the MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (above; also available as a 33 Mbyte animated GIF) showed the second and third of these atmospheric river events during the 06 January11 January 2017 period, which were responsible for the bulk of the heavy precipitation; these 2 events appear to have drawn moisture northeastward from the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)..

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Near-Infrared

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (2.1 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A relatively cloud-free day on 13 January provided a good view of the Sacramento Valley and San Francisco Bay regions. A comparison of Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Near-Infrared  “Snow/Ice” (2.1 µm) images (above) showed that snow cover in the higher terrain of the Coastal Ranges and the Sierra Nevada appeared darker in the Snow/Ice band image (since snow and ice are strong absorbers of radiation at the 2.1 µm wavelength) — but water is an even stronger absorber, and therefore appeared even darker (which allowed the areas of flooding along the Sacramento River and its tributaries to be easily identified). A similar type of 1.6 µm Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” Band imagery will be available from the ABI instrument on the GOES-R series, beginning with GOES-16.

Better detail of the flooded areas of the Sacramento River and its tributaries was seen in 250-meter resolution false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) imagery from the MODIS Today site — water appears as darker shades of blue, while snow appears as shades of cyan (in contrast to supercooled water droplet clouds, which appear as shades of white). In the corresponding MODIS true-color image, rivers and bays with high amounts of turbidity (tan shades) were evident; the offshore flow of sediment from a few rivers could also be seen.

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

 

Severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall/flooding in the Upper Midwest

July 12th, 2016 |

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images, with SPC storm reports [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images, with SPC storm reports [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above; also available as an MP4 movie file) showed a series of mesoscale convective systems that moved across northeastern Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the 11 July12 July 2016 period. Some of these storms produced tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds (SPC storm reports) in addition to heavy rainfall, with as much as 9.00 inches in Minnesota and 9.80 inches in Wisconsin (NWS Duluth storm summary). Several highways were closed due to flooding and/or washout, including a portion of Interstate 35 in Minnesota (interstates and highways are plotted in violet on the images).

A sequence of Infrared images from Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) (below) showed greater detail in the storm-top temperature structure at various times during the event.

Infrared images from Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) [click to play animation]

Infrared images from Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) [click to play animation]

===== 19 July Update =====

Comparison of before (09 July) and after (12 July through 19 July) Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images [click to enlarge]

Comparison of before (09 July) and after (12 July through 19 July) Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images [click to enlarge]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from before the event (09 July) and after the event (12 through 19 July) (above) revealed the large amounts of sediment flowing offshore into the southwestern portion of Lake Superior.

Another comparison of before (09 July) and after (13 through 19 July) true-color RGB images from Terra and Aqua MODIS is shown below.

Comparison of before (09 July) and after (13 through 19 July) Terra/Aqua MODIS true-color images [click to enlarge]

Comparison of before (09 July) and after (13 July through 19 July) Terra/Aqua MODIS true-color images [click to enlarge]

A toggle between a Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and the corresponding MODIS Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product on 16 July (below) showed that the SST values in the sediment-rich nearshore waters were significantly warmer (middle 60s F, red enhancement) than those found closer to the center of Lake Superior (middle 40s F, cyan enhancement).

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and Sea Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and Sea Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]