Mid-latitude cyclone in the central US

January 22nd, 2018 |

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly precipitation type plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

5-minute GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly precipitation type plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

A large mid-latitude cyclone intensified over the central US on 22 January 2018, producing a wide variety of weather: in the cold sector. heavy snow and blizzard conditions in the Plains and Upper Midwest (WPC storm summary), and in the warm sector, severe weather (tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds: SPC storm reports) from Mississippi to Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (above) showed the large size of the storm circulation.

A GOES-16 Mesoscale Sector provided 1-minute imagery over the Upper Midwest — “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) revealed some of the convective elements surrounding the surface low as it reached its occluded stage over Iowa.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly precipitation type plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly precipitation type plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

Taking a  closer look at the eastern portion of the previous satellite scene, there was overlap between the M1 and M2 Mesoscale Sectors which allowed for images at 30-second intervals (below).

30-second GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly precipitation type plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

30-second GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly precipitation type plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

Ice dam in Lake Erie

January 19th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly surface wind barbs plotted in yellow and wind gusts (knots) plotted in cyan [click to play animation]

Thanks to Dave Zaff (NWS Buffalo) for the email alerting us to an ice dam that had formed across the eastern portion of Lake Erie on 19 January 2018 — GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed that the northeastward drift of ice floes was effectively being blocked by this ice dam feature.

A toggle between 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS True-color and False-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (below) provided a more detailed view of the Lake Erie ice dam and upwind drift ice at 1615 UTC. Snow and ice appear as shades of cyan in the False-color image, in contrast to supercooled water droplet clouds which are shades of white.

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

Terra MODIS True-color and False-color RGB images; red arrows denote the location of the ice dam [click to enlarge]

The Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with an overlay of RTMA surface winds (below) showed the southwesterly flow across the long axis of the lake.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with surface METAR reports and RTMA surface winds [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with surface METAR reports and RTMA surface winds [click to enlarge]

A toggle between 1607 UTC Terra MODIS and 1757 UTC Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible images (below) showed the motion of the lake drift ice during that time period.

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible images, with METAR surface reports [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible images, with METAR surface reports [click to enlarge]

Blowing snow in North Dakota and Minnesota

January 11th, 2018 |

GOES-16

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

Several inches of new snow followed by strong northerly winds led to widespread blizzard conditions across the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota on 11 January 2018 (NWS Grand Forks summary). A GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mesoscale Sector had been positioned over the Upper Midwest to monitor the winter storm, providing images at 1-minute intervals — and a comparison of “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (above) showed the development of horizontal convective rolls that are a common feature associated with blowing snow.

Ice floes in Chesapeake Bay

January 7th, 2018 |

Landsat-8 false-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

In the wake of the explosive cyclogenesis off the East Coast of the US on 04 January 2018, very cold air began to spread across much of the eastern half of the Lower 48 states. Focusing on the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia, satellite imagery began to show the formation of ice in the rivers and bays. On 06 January, a 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (above) revealed some of this ice — in particular, long narrow ice floes (snow and ice appear as shades of cyan) that likely emerged from the Back River (northeast of Hampton) and were drifting northward and southward just off the coast of the Virginia Peninsula.

On the following day (07 January), 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images from the MODIS Today site (below) showed that a larger V-shaped ice floe was located just southeast of the Peninsula, with its vertex pointed toward the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT). Snow and ice also appear as shades of cyan in the MODIS false-color image.

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

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

07 January also happened to be the last full day of imagery to be broadcast by the GOES-13 satellite — a comparison of 1-minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) Visible (0.64 µm) and 15-30 minute interval GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) showed that the V-shaped ice floe continued to drift southwestward toward the HRBT. However, it was difficult to tell whether the ice feature made it over and past the tunnel; even with the improved GOES-16 Visible spatial resolution (0.5 km at satellite sub-point, compared to 1.0 km for GOES-13) and the 1-minute rapid image scans, the ice floe became harder to track during the afternoon hours before high clouds began to overspread the region.

"GOES-16

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm, right) images, with hourly surface air temperatures (ºF) plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

However, a close examination of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images at 1826 UTC (below) indicated that some of the ice had indeed moved westward past Fort Monroe (on the far southeastern tip of the Peninsula) and over/past the HRBT.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

On the topic of cold temperatures in southeastern Virginia, a new daily record low of -3 ºF was set at Richmond on the morning of 07 January, and at Norfolk new daily record low and record low maximum temperatures were set (10 ºF and 23 ºF, respectively).