Cold air over the Upper Midwest

December 10th, 2019 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with select minimum temperatures as of 12 UTC [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (above) showed pockets of cold surface brightness temperatures — darker blue represented the -30 to -35ºC (-22 to -31ºF) range — over parts of North Dakota during the 4 hours leading up to sunrise on 10 December 2019. As of 12 UTC, the coldest locations in the US (including Alaska) were Rugby and Watford City, North Dakota with -22ºF; however, Grand Forks International Airport later dropped to -25ºF at 1245 UTC.

With the cold and dry arctic air mass in place across the Upper Midwest, GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm) and Mid-level (6.9 µm) Water Vapor imagery (below) was able to sense the thermal contrast between cold, snow-covered land surfaces and the still-unfrozen reservoirs along the Missouri River in North Dakota and South Dakota.

 GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm) and Mid-level (6.9 µm) images, with rawinsonde sites indicated in yellow [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm) and Mid-level (6.9 µm) images, with rawinsonde sites indicated in yellow [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Water Vapor weighting functions calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Aberdeen, SD (below) showed the downward shift of the peak pressures for all 3 spectral bands — with some contributions of radiation originating from the surface indicated for both the 7.3 µm and 6.9 µm bands.

GOES-16 Water Vapor weighting functions calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Aberdeen, SD [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Water Vapor weighting functions calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Aberdeen, SD [click to enlarge]

According to the climatology of Precipitable Water for Aberdeen SD (below), the 12 UTC value of 0.06 inch tied the record minimum value for that date/time. The 12 UTC sounding at Bismarck ND failed at a pressure level near 400 hPa — but the PW value of 0.05 inch calculated from that data would be slightly less than the record minimum value of 0.06 inch for that date/time.

Climatology of Precipitable Water for Aberdeen, SD [click to enlarge]

Climatology of Precipitable Water for Aberdeen, SD [click to enlarge]

On a NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image with plots of available NUCAPS sounding locations (below), soundings northeast of Bismarck KBIS and southeast of Aberdeen KABR are denoted by 1 and 2, respectively.

NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image, with plots of available NUCAPS sounding locations [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image, with plots of available NUCAPS sounding locations [click to enlarge]

Plots of the NOAA-20 NUCAPS sounding profiles northeast of Bismarck KBIS and southeast of Aberdeen KABR around 19 UTC are shown below. Precipitable Water values calculated for these two soundings remained quite low, at 0.03 inch and 0.04 inch.

NOAA-20 NUCAPS sounding profile northeast of Bismarck (Point 1) [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 NUCAPS sounding profile northeast of Bismarck KBIS (Point 1) [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 NUCAPS sounding profile southeast of Aberdeen KABR (Point 2) [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 NUCAPS sounding profile southeast of Aberdeen KABR (Point 2) [click to enlarge]

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Examples of “river effect” cloud plumes — produced by cold air flowing across deep, relatively warm water in some of the Missouri River reservoirs — were evident in GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images over North Dakota (above) and South Dakota (below).

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Gridded NUCAPS in AWIPS, part II

November 12th, 2019 |

NUCAPS horizontal plots of 850-hPa temperature, 1643-1705 UTC on 12 November 2019, and the NUCAPS Sounding Availability plots (Click to enlarge)

As noted in this post from October, horizontal fields of thermodynamic variables that have been derived from NUCAPS vertical profiles are now available in AWIPS. The fields give a swath of observations derived from infrared and microwave sounders in regions of the troposphere where observations by Radiosondes happen only occasionally. In this case, NUCAPS observed the strong cold front moving southward into the north Atlantic. Temperatures over eastern Canada at 850 hPa were in the teens below 0 Celsius, and in the teens (Celsius) out over the Atlantic.

850-hPa Temperatures derived from NUCAPS Soundings, 1653 UTC on 12 November 2019 (Click to enlarge)

Lower-tropospheric temperatures are an important variable to know when early-season cold airmasses are cold enough that the temperature difference between 850 hPa and surface water bodies — such as rivers and lakes — is sufficient to support Lake (or River) Effect clouds and precipitation. River-effect flurries hit mid-town Memphis on the 12th of November, and the 0.86 “Veggie” image (0.86 µm, this wavelength was chosen because land/water contrasts are large in it) image, below, shows a band extending from the Mississippi River in northwest Tennessee southward into central Memphis. NUCAPS data at 850 on this day showed 850-mb temperatures around -10 C at 0900 UTC.

GOES-16 0.86 “Veggie” Band (0.86 µm) imagery, 1346 UTC on 12 November 2019 (Click to enlarge). Shelby County in Tennessee is outlined, and the arrow points to a River-Effect snow band that dropped flurries over mid-town Memphis.

Potential Vorticity anomaly approaching Baja California and Southern California

November 5th, 2019 |

GOES-17 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Air Mass RGB images, with and without contours of PV1.5 pressure [click to play animation |MP4]

GOES-17 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Air Mass RGB images, with and without contours of PV1.5 pressure [click to play animation |MP4]

GOES-17 (GOES-West) Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Air Mass RGB images (above) displayed the signature of dry, ozone-rich air associated with a Potential Vorticity (PV) anomaly approaching Baja California and Southern California on 05 November 2019. The “dynamic tropopause” — taken to be the pressure of the PV1.5 surface — descended to the 500 hPa level within this PV anomaly.

A GOES-17 Water Vapor image with plots of available NOAA-20 NUCAPS soundings (below) is labeled with sounding points within the core of the PV anomaly (Point 1) and within the core of the driest air (Point 2).

GOES-17 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with plots of available NOAA-20 NUCAPS soundings [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with plots of available NOAA-20 NUCAPS soundings [click to enlarge]

The NUCAPS sounding profiles for Point 1 and Point 2 are shown below. The middle/upper troposphere was quite dry at both locations.

NUCAPS sounding profile for Point 1 [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS sounding profile for Point 1 [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS sounding profile for Point 2 [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS sounding profile for Point 2 [click to enlarge]

Gridded NUCAPS fields are available in AWIPS

October 29th, 2019 |

NUCAPS Sounding Availability points from AWIPS, 1304 UTC on 29 October 2019, and the Temperature at 500 hPa at the same time (Click to enlarge)

Gridded NUCAPS fields (Here’s a NASA SpoRT VLab page on the product) are now available in AWIPS, effective with AWIPS Build 19.3.1. The imagery above includes a swath of NUCAPS points (called up via ‘NUCAPS Sounding Availability’) under the Satellite Tab, and the ‘S-NPP and NOAA-20’ choice there (even though, at present, only NOAA-20 NUCAPS profiles are supplied to AWIPS). A ‘Gridded NUCAPS’ choice is available right about the NUCAPS Sounding Availability, and this allows a user to choose Temperature, Dewpoint Temperature, Equivalent Potential Temperature, Lapse Rates (and more!) at different standard mandatory pressure levels (or layers, for Lapse Rates). Interpolation in the vertical has moved the native NUCAPS pressure levels (mentioned here) to standard pressure levels.

The plot above also shows the temperature at 500 hPa for the same time, 1304 UTC.  Gridded NUCAPS fields do not cover the entire extent of the NUCAPS Sounding Availability plots.  In addition, values are present for all sounding color dot points — green, yellow and red — on the theory that a user can identify the bad data visually.

The animation below shows a series of gridded fields over northern Canada, covering much of the the Sounding Availability plot.  Because of the timestamps on these different grids, they do not all time match the swath of NUCAPS Sounding Availability points. On this day, the size of some of the fields produced was quite small.  The size of the gridded region is limited by computational resources on AWIPS, and the upper limit is 20 lines of NUCAPS soundings — 600 soundings total that are horizontally and vertically interpolated. The size is also affected by the order in which the soundings appear in AWIPS. If a small chunk (say, 7 lines of soundings) comes in, then that small chunk will be processed into a horizontal grid. It’s more common that grid sizes will be closer to what occurred at 1304 UTC.

Temperature at 500 mb from NUCAPS Soundings, 1304 – 1311 UTC on 29 October 2019 (Click to enlarge)

If you look in the Product Browser on AWIPS, you will find far more data than are available under the ‘Gridded NUCAPS’ menu under ‘NOAA-20 and S-NPP’ under the satellite tab.  (Here’s just a small sample!)  For example, you can plot Ozone estimates from NUCAPS, as shown below — loaded as a grid then converted to an image.  Expect the presentation of NUCAPS horizontal fields in AWIPS to evolve with time.  In the meantime, this is a valuable data set to determine (for example) the likelihood of snow v. rain based on the 925 Temperature and Dewpoint Depression.

AWIPS Product Browser showing Ozone Estimates at 1304 UTC on 29 October 2019 (Click to enlarge)

(Thanks to Dr. Emily Berndt, NASA SpoRT, for clarifying remarks. Any errors that remain are the author’s, however!  Imagery courtesy NWS MKX)