Eruption of Mount Etna in Italy

December 24th, 2018 |

VIIRS True Color RGB images from NOAA-20 (at 1110 and 1220 UTC) and Suomi NPP (at 1200 UTC) [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color RGB images from NOAA-20 (at 1110 and 1220 UTC) and Suomi NPP (at 1154 UTC) [click to enlarge]

A sequence of VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP viewed using RealEarth (above) showed the volcanic ash plume from an eruption of Mount Etna in Italy on 24 December 2018.

A toggle between NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below) revealed a colder cloud plume at higher altitude along the southern edge of the tan/brown volcanic ash plume. A thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (dark black pixels) could be seen at the snow-covered volcano summit.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1250 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1250 UTC [click to enlarge]

The volcanic plume could be quantitatively analyzed using Suomi NPP VIIRS Ash Probability, Ash Height, Ash Loading and Ash Effective Radius products from the NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Cloud Monitoring site at 1154 UTC (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Ash Probability, Ash Height, Ash Loading and Ash Effective Radius at 1154 UTC [click to play enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Ash Probability, Ash Height, Ash Loading and Ash Effective Radius at 1154 UTC [click to play enlarge]

Since the bulk of the volcanic plume was high in ash content with minimal water or ice cloud, a good signature was seen using Meteosat-11 Split Window (11-12 µm) Brightness Temperature Difference images (below).

Meteosat-11 Split Window (11.12 µm) Brightness Temperature Difference images [click to play animation]

Meteosat-11 Split Window (11.12 µm) Brightness Temperature Difference images [click to play animation]

Blowing dust in the Arabian Sea

November 3rd, 2018 |

Sequence of daily True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS, covering the period 01-03 November [click to play animation]

Sequence of daily True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS, covering the period 01-03 November [click to play animation]

Strong winds across southern Iran and Pakistan were lofting plumes of blowing sand/dust offshore over the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea during 01 November, 02 November and 03 November 2018 — a sequence of daily composites of True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS from RealEarth (above) showed the increase in dust transport during that 3-day period.

A comparison of True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS, NOAA-20 VIIRS, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS on 03 November is shown below.

Comparison of True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS, NOAA-20 VIIRS, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS on 03 November [click to play animation]

Comparison of True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS, NOAA-20 VIIRS, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS on 03 November [click to play animation]

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT data (source) showed surface wind speeds in the 20-25 knot range emerging from the coast where plumes of blowing dust were located (below).

Meop ASCAT surface scatteromete winds [click to enlarge]

Meop ASCAT surface scatteromete winds [click to enlarge]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 High Resolution Visible (0.8 µm) images from 02 November and 03 November (below) showed the daily evolution of the dust plumes.

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images on 02 November [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images on 03 November [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images on 03 November [click to play animation | MP4]

Pyrocumulonimbus cloud in South Africa

October 29th, 2018 |

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.92 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm, top), Shortwave Infrared (3.92 µm, center) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.8 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

The Garden Route Fires had been burning since about 24 October 2018 near George along the southern coast of South Africa (media story). On 29 October, EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 High Resolution Visible (0.8 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.92 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images (above) showed an elongated west-to-east oriented thermal anomaly or fire “hot spot” (red pixels) just northeast of George (station identifier FAGG) on Shortwave Infrared imagery during the hours leading up to the formation of a pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) cloud around 1300 UTC. The pyroCb exhibited the characteristic warm (+10 to +15ºC, darker gray enhancement) shortwave infrared cloud-top signature just off the coast at 1315 UTC, — this is due to enhanced solar reflection off ice crystals that are smaller compared to those of conventional thunderstorm tops.

Zooming out a bit to follow the southeastward drift of the pyroCb cloud (below), the coldest cloud-top 10.8 µm infrared brightness temperature (BT) was -61ºC (darker red enhancement) at 1315 UTC — then the cloud tops remained in the -55 to -59ºC range (orange enhancement) for the next 6 hours or so. Leveraging the large difference between cold 10.8 µm and warm 3.92 µm BTs, NRL calculates a pyroCb index, which classified this feature as an “intense pyroCb” (1315 UTC | animation). The coldest 10.8 µm cloud-top BT of -61ºC roughly corresponds to an altitude of 13.5 km based on 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Port Elizabeth (plot | list).

Meteosat-11 Shortwave Infrared (3.92 µm, left) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.8 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Shortwave Infrared (3.92 µm, left) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.8 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Imagery from NOAA-19 at 1420 UTC (courtesy of René Servranckx) also revealed the warm (dark gray) Shortwave Infrared pyroCb signature, along with a minimum cloud-top infrared BT of -58.1ºC (below).

NOAA-19 AVHRR imagery at 1420 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-19 AVHRR imagery at 1420 UTC [click to enlarge]

A Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image at 1230 UTC (below) was about a half hour before the formation of the pyroCb, but it did show a signature of smoke drifting southeastward off the coast.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

On the following day (30 October), a NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color image (below) showed the classic comma cloud signature of a mid-latitude cyclone south of the coast, with the band of cold-frontal clouds extending northward across Lesotho. Note the thick plume of smoke spreading eastward within the strong post-frontal westerly winds.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

A time series of of surface observations from George (below) supported the idea of a cold frontal passage: ahead of the front, temperatures rapidly rose to 104ºF/40ºC (with a dew point of 39ºF/4ºC) on 28 October about 1.5 hours prior to the formation of the pyroCb — then strong westerly winds (gusting to 40 knots/21 mps) with rising pressures and falling temperatures followed on 30 October.

Time series plot of of surface observations from George [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of of surface observations from George [click to enlarge]

The pyroCb research community believes that this is the first documented case of a pyroCb on the African continent.

 

Post-Tropical Cyclone Leslie makes landfall in Portugal

October 13th, 2018 |

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image, with and without surface reports [click to enlarge]

20 days after Leslie initially formed (and 17 days after it underwent extratropical transition), an Aqua MODIS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (above) showed the storm at 1419 UTC on 13 October 2018, when it was still classified as a Category 1 Hurricane off the coast of Portugal. The southwest-to-northeast oriented cloud band just west of Leslie was associated with an advancing cold front (surface analyses), which soon began to absorb the tropical cyclone and aid in its extra-tropical transition a few hours prior to landfall.

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 middle/upper-tropospheric Water Vapor (6.25 µm) images (below) exhibited a warm/drying trend (brighter shades of yellow) along the western and southern edges of Leslie as it moved inland across Portugal. Hourly Meteosat-11 Water Vapor images visualized using RealEarth are available here.

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 Water Vapor (6.25 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 Water Vapor (6.25 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

Along the coast of Portugal a thunderstorm was reported at Porto (LPPR) from 1930-2000 UTC (about an hour before landfall). Farther to the south, shortly after landfall the surface winds gusted to 55 knots (63 mph or 28.3 m/s) at Monte Real Air Base (LPMR) at 21 UTC and 42 knots (48 mph or 21.6 m/s) at Ovar Military Base (LPOV) at 23 UTC. The highest wind gust was 95 knots (110 mph or 49 m/s) at Figueira da Foz, located along the coast between LPMR and LPOV:

Meteosat-11 lower/middle-tropospheric Water Vapor (7.35 µm) images (below) revealed the characteristic “scorpion tail” signature of a Sting Jet (Monthly Weather Review | Wikipedia), along with a mesoscale region of warming/drying (darker shades of orange) driven by strong subsidence — this subsidence feature corresponded well with the report of strong winds at Figueira da Foz. Further discussion of this sting jet event is available here.

Meteosat-11 Water Vapor (7.35 µm) images, with hourly splots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 Water Vapor (7.35 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

Radar composites from the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) confirmed that post-tropical cyclone Leslie made landfall around 2100 UTC (below).

Radar reflectivity composites [click to play animation]

Radar reflectivity composites [click to play animation]

Although the view from GOES-16 (GOES-East) was very oblique, the warm/dry signature around the western and southern edges of the storm was still evident on Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) imagery (below).

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

The entire life cycle of Leslie — from becoming a named Subtropical Storm at 15 UTC on 23 September to making landfall as a post-tropical cyclone in Portugal at 21 UTC on 13 October — is shown with 15-minute GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm)  and Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (below). Note that 5-minute imagery was available on 01 October, when GOES-16 was performing a test of the Mode 4 scan strategy.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

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]