Rope cloud in the East Pacific Ocean

January 16th, 2019 |
GOES-17

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) image, with an overlay of the 12 UTC surface analysis [click to enlarge]

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

An 1802 UTC GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) image with an overlay of the 12 UTC surface analysis (above) revealed a well-defined rope cloud which stretched for nearly 1000 miles, marking the cold front position at the time of the image. Rope clouds can therefore be used to diagnose the exact location of the leading edge of a cold frontal boundary between times when surface analyses are available. In this case, the cold front was associated with a Hurricane Force low over the East Pacific Ocean on 16 January 2019 (surface analyses).

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

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

An animation of GOES-17 Visible images is shown above, with a zoomed-in version closer to the rope cloud displayed below.

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

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

An even closer look (below) showed that the rope cloud was only about 2-3 miles wide.

GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to enlarge]

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

When the 18 UTC surface analysis later became available, a close-up comparison with the 1802 UTC GOES-17 Visible image (below) indicated that the northern portion of the cold front (as indicated by the rope cloud) was slightly ahead of — and the southern portion slightly behind — the smoothed cold frontal position of the surface analysis product.

1802 UTC GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) image, with an overlay of the 18 UTC surface analysis [click to enlarge]

1802 UTC GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) image, with an overlay of the 18 UTC surface analysis [click to enlarge]

NOAA-15 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images at 1617 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-15 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images at 1617 UTC [click to enlarge]

1-km resolution AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images of the rope cloud were captured by NOAA-15 at 1617 UTC (above) and by NOAA-18 at 1710 UTC (below). Along the northeastern portion of the rope cloud, there were a few convective clouds which exhibited cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures as cold as -55 to -60ºC (darker shades of red) and were tall enough to be casting shadows due to the low morning sun angle.

NOAA-18 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-18 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images at 1710 UTC [click to enlarge]


===== 17 January Update =====

GOES-17 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

On the following day, another rope cloud (one that was more fractured) was seen moving across Hawai’i as a cold front passed the island of Kaua’i — the southeastward progression of the rope cloud was evident on GOES-17 True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (above)  from the UW AOS site.

Surface observations plotted on GOES-17 Visible images (below) showed the wind shift from southwest to north as the cold front moved through Lihue on Kauwa’i around 00 UTC.

GOES-17

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 18 January Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image, with and without buoy observations [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image, with and without buoy observations [click to enlarge]

Not all rope clouds are associated with cold fronts; with ample illumination from the Moon — in the Waxing Gibbous phase, at 90% of Full — a Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image (above) provided a “visible image at night” of a rope cloud in the northern Gulf of Mexico which highlighted a surface wind shift axis.

A sequence of VIIRS Day/Night Band images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP (below) showed the movement of the rope cloud during a time span of about 1.5 hours.

NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Blowing snow in southern Manitoba and the Red River Valley

January 15th, 2019 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice (1.61 µm, right) images, with hourly plots of surface wind and weather type [click to play animation | MP4]

A comparison of GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (above) revealed plumes of blowing snow originating over northern Lake Winnipeg and southern Lake Manitoba, lofted by strong northerly winds in the wake of a cold frontal passage. The blowing snow originating over the southern portion of Lake Manitoba was then then channeled southward into the Red River Valley (topography), with horizontal convective roll clouds eventually developing.

In a sequence of MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) images from Terra and Aqua in addition to VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP (below), the plumes of blowing snow were also easier to detect in the Snow/Ice images (due to better contrast against the existing snow cover).

MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) images from Terra and Aqua plus VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) images from Terra and Aqua plus VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

A closer view of the Lake Manitoba plume is shown below; surface observations indicated that visibility was reduced to 1/4 statute mile at locations such as Calilier ND (plot | text) and Hallock MN (plot | text).

NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP VIIRS Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) images, with plots of surface observations [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP VIIRS Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) images, with plots of surface observations [click to enlarge]

An Aqua MODIS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image centered on Winnipeg, Manitoba (source)  is shown below.

Aqua MODIS True Color image [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color image [click to enlarge]

Toggles between 250-meter resolution Terra/Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images (centered between Lake Manitoba and the North Dakota border) from the MODIS Today site (below) provided a more detailed view of the blowing snow streaming southeastward from Lake Manitoba into far northeastern North Dakota and far northwestern Minnesota.

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

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

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

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

Hurricane Force low in the West Pacific

January 10th, 2019 |
GOES-17

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

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) revealed the low-level circulation of an occluded Hurricane Force low (surface analyses) over the West Pacific Ocean on 09 January – 10 January 2019. This storm was forecast to produce wave heights up to 40-60 feet.

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (below) showed the circulation of the storm at higher altitudes.

GOES-17 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 | MP4]

GOES-17 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 | MP4]

Metop-A ASCAT surface scatterometer wind speeds were as high as 67 knots southwest of the storm center and 63 knots to the northeast (below).

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) image with Metop-A ASCAT surface scatterometer winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) image with Metop-A ASCAT surface scatterometer winds [click to enlarge]

A toggle between VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 — as viewed using RealEarth — is shown below.

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

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

Standing wave cloud over Minnesota and Lake Superior

January 8th, 2019 |

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

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

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (above) revealed the formation of a standing wave cloud along the Minnesota shoreline of Lake Superior on 08 January 2019. This cloud feature was formed by a vertically-propagating internal gravity wave that resulted from the interaction of strong post-frontal northwesterly flow with the topography of the shoreline — the terrain quickly drops from an elevation of about 2000 feet above sea level (over northeastern Minnesota) to about 600 feet above sea level (over Lake Superior) in a very short distance.

A northwest-to-southeast oriented cross section of RAP40 model fields along line segment B-B’ (below) showed a deep pocket of positive Omega (upward vertical motion, yellow to red colors) that corresponded to the cloud band along the Minnesota Lake Superior shoreline. Note that this Omega feature was vertically tilted in an “upshear” direction (toward the northwest), and extended upward to the 350-400 hPa pressure level. There was also an increasing upward component of the ageostrophic vertical circulation, which was likely the initial forcing mechanism leading to formation of the standing wave cloud seen on satellite imagery.

RAP40 model cross section along line B-B' [click to play animation | MP4]

RAP40 model cross section along line B-B’ [click to play animation | MP4]

A comparison of Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images at 1912 UTC (below) showed characteristics indicative of a cirrus cloud band composed of small ice crystals: a highly reflective signature at 1.37 µm, warm brightness temperatures (around -5ºC) at 3.7 µm and cold brightness temperatures (-40 to -43ºC) at 11.0 µm.

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A sequence of NOAA-20 (at 1808 and 1949 UTC) Suomi NPP (at 1859 UTC) VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below) exhibited a similar warm 3.74 µm / cold 11.45 µm signature of the standing wave cloud.

Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

The coldest wave cloud infrared brightness temperature values of -40 to -47ºC seen on MODIS and VIIRS imagery roughly corresponded altitudes of 6.6 to 7.3 km (21,600 to 23,900 feet) according to 12 UTC rawinsonde data from International Falls, Minnesota (below).

Plots of rawinsonde data from International Falls, Minnesota [click to enlarge]

Plots of rawinsonde data from International Falls, Minnesota [click to enlarge]