Gravity waves near Guadalupe Island

March 15th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) revealed an interesting packet of gravity waves in the vicinity of Guadalupe Island (west of Baja California) on 15 March 2018. The mechanism forcing these waves was not entirely clear, making it a suitable candidate for the “What the heck is this?” blog category.

A similar animation of GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images (below) did show some smaller-scale waves on Visible imagery within the marine boundary layer stratocumulus cloud field, but they did not appear to exhibit a direct correlation with the higher-altitude waves seen in the Water Vapor imagery. Surface winds were from the northwest at 10-15 knots, as a dissipating cold front was stalled over the region.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, right) images [click to play animation]

A larger-scale view of Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (below) showed that these waves were located to the north of a jet streak axis — denoted by the sharp dry-to-moist gradient (yellow to blue enhancement) stretching from southwest to northeast as it moved over Baja California.

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

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

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images with overlays of upper-tropospheric atmospheric motion vectors and contours of upper-tropospheric divergence (below) indicated that Guadalupe Island was located within the “dry delta” signature often associated with a jet stream break — the inflection point between 2 strong jet streaks within a sharply-curved jet stream. Upper-tropospheric winds were from the west/northwest, with upper-tropospheric convergence seen over the region of the gravity waves.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with water vapor wind vectors [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with atmospheric motion vectors [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with contours of upper-tropospheric convergence [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with contours of upper-tropospheric convergence [click to enlarge]

An early morning Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image with NAM80 contours of 250 hPa wind speed (below) showed the two 90-knot jet streaks on either side of the jet stream break — it could be that speed convergence due to rapidly decelerating air within the exit region of the western jet streak was a possible forcing mechanism of the gravity waves seen on the GOES-16 Water Vapor imagery.

Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image, with NAM80 contours of 250 hPa wind speed [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image, with NAM80 contours of 250 hPa wind speed [click to enlarge]

Silt at the mouth of the Mississippi River

March 13th, 2018 |

CIMSS Natural True Color Imagery, 1515 – 1830 UTC on 13 March 2018 (Click to animate)

The CIMSS Natural True Color RGB, above, from 13 March 2018, shows the motion of alluvial sediment in the Gulf of Mexico in the outflow from various rivers. Muddy plumes from the Atchafalaya River in central Louisiana, the Mississippi River, and the Mobile River in Alabama are apparent. In particular, there is distinct northward motion during the 3 hours shown in this animation along the northern edge of the Mississippi River Delta.

A similar animation for 9 March 2018 is available here (courtesy Tim Schmit, NOAA and Mat Gunshor, CIMSS). Close monitoring of where the outflow from rivers is mixing with the Gulf of Mexico waters is a capability of GOES-16 Imagery when skies are clear.

Natural True Color is computed from GOES-16 Reflectance imagery using the “Blue” band (0.47 µm), the “Red” band (0.64 µm) and the “Veggie” band (0.86 µm), that latter being used to give information that in True Color Imagery from MODIS or Suomi NPP (for example) is supplied by a true “Green” band (0.55 µm).

The animation below shows True-Color imagery from MODIS for clear days between 30 January and 13 March 2018. The superior resolution of MODIS (on the Terra and Aqua spacecraft) and the presence of a 0.55 µm channel (in addition to 0.47 µm and 0.64 µm) allows for crisper imagery than from GOES-16; however, the ability to animate at small time scales over the Gulf of Mexico is a capability reserved for GOES-16 (and GOES-17, when it becomes operational). Terra and Aqua imagery are not useful if the overpass of the Polar Orbiters coincide with clouds; on days with variable cloud cover, GOES Imagery is more likely to provide useful information.

MODIS True Color Imagery for select dates between 30 January and 13 March 2018 (Click to animate)

Severe weather in the Mid-South, and heavy snow in the Upper Midwest

February 24th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm), with hourly plots of surface weather type [click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface weather type [click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (above) showed the flow of moisture from the lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley on 24 February 2018 — this fueled the development of flooding rainfall and severe thunderstorms (for more details, see the Satellite Liaison Blog). A special 21 UTC sounding from Little Rock AR indicated 37.3 mm or 1.47 inches of Total Precipitable Water (TPW) within the atmospheric column.

1-minute interval Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) revealed the development of a small supercell thunderstorm just north of the Kentucky/Tennessee border — this storm produced an EF-2  tornado that was responsible for 1 fatality (NWS Louisville damage survey). This (along with another in Arkansas) was the first US tornado-related death in 283 days (a new record in terms of length), with the last occurring in Wisconsin on 16 May 2017.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible<em> (0.64 µm, left)</em> and "Clean" Infrared Window <em>(10.3 µm, right)</em> images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow and SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to play Animated GIF | <a href="http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/180224_goes16_visible_infrared_spc_storm_reports_KY_TN_severe_anim.mp4"><strong>MP4</strong></a> also available]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow and SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available]

Farther to the north, bands of elevated convection (oriented generally west to east) developed across Minnesota and Wisconsin, as seen in GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below). Snowfall rates were 1-2 inches per hour at some locations, with many storm total accumulations of 7 to 9 inches. Note the small-scale “ripple structure” that was present along the tops of many of these convective bands (orthogonal to the long axis of each band).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0/64 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-16

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

Comparisons of Terra and Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images (below) also showed these bands of elevated convection that helped to enhance snowfall rates. The layer of instability aloft was evident on the 00 UTC sounding from Chanhassen MN.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Eruption of Mount Sinabung volcano

February 19th, 2018 |

Himawari-8 RGB images [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 RGB images [click to play animation]

An explosive eruption of Mount Sinabung began at 0153 UTC on 19 February 2018. Himawari-8 False-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Cloud Monitoring site (above) showed the primary plume of high-altitude ash moving northwestward, with ash at lower altitudes spreading out to the south and southeast of the volcano.

Mutli-spectral retrievals of Ash Cloud Height (below) indicated that the explosive eruption injected volcanic ash to altitudes generally within the 12-18 km range, possibly reaching heights of 18-20 km. Advisories issued by the Darwin VAAC listed the ash height at 45,000 feet (13.7 km).

Himawari-8 Ash Height product [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Ash Height product [click to play animation]

Ash Loading values (below) were also very high within the high-altitude portion of the plume.

Himawari-8 Ash Loading product [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Ash Loading product [click to play animation]

The Ash Effective Radius product (below) indicated that very large particles were present in the portion of the plume immediately downwind of the eruption site.

Himawari-8 Ash Effective Radius product [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Ash Effective Radius product [click to play animation]

In a comparison of Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images (below), note the very pronounced warm thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (large cluster of red pixels) on the 0150 UTC image — Himawari-8 was actually scanning that location at 01:54:31 UTC, just after the 0153 UTC eruption. Prior to the main eruption (beginning at 0120 UTC), a very narrow volcanic cloud — likely composed primarily of condensed steam — was seen streaming rapidly southward from the volcano summit.

Himawari-8

Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, center) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm, right) images [click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available]

The coldest Himawari-8 cloud-top infrared brightness temperature was -73 ºC at 0300 UTC, which roughly corresponded to an altitude of 15 km on nearby WIMM (Medan) rawinsonde data at 00 UTC (below).

Medan, Indonesia rawinsonde data at 00 UTC on 19 February [click to enlarge]

Medan, Indonesia rawinsonde data at 00 UTC on 19 February [click to enlarge]

A Terra MODIS True-color RGB image viewed using RealEarth is shown below. The actual time of the Terra satellite overpass was 0410 UTC.

Terra MODIS True-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

An animation of Himawari-8 True-color RGB images can be seen here.