40th Anniversary of the “Edmund Fitzgerald Storm”

November 10th, 2015 |

NOAA-4 daytime and nighttime Infrared composites [click to enlarge]

NOAA-4 daytime and nighttime Infrared composites [click to enlarge]

Today marks the 40-year anniversary of the powerful Great Lakes storm that was responsible for the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald (which occurred on 10 November 1975). The image composites (above, courtesy of Jean Phillips, Schwerdtfeger Library) were constructed from daytime and nighttime overpasses of the NOAA-4 polar-orbiting satellite, and show the large cloud shield of the storm moving northeastward from the Great Lakes into eastern Canada during the 10-11 November 1975 period. The rapidly-intensifying nature of the storm can seen by comparing the 12 UTC surface analyses on 09 November and 10 November.

Since the first operational geostationary weather satellites (SMS-1 and SMS-2) were relatively new back in 1975, the CIMSS Regional Assimilation System (CRAS) model was utilized to generate synthetic Infrared (IR) satellite images to provide a general idea of what the satellite imagery might have looked like for this intense storm. The 48-hour sequence of synthetic CRAS IR images (below) shows the evolution of the model-derived cloud features at 1-hour intervals.

CRAS model simulated Infrared imagery [click to enlarge]

CRAS model simulated Infrared imagery [click to enlarge]

Additional information about this Edmond Fitzgerald storm can be seen on this website, as well as the NWS Marquette and this journal article.

A strong storm of similar character developed over the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region on 9-11 November 1998. GOES-8 (GOES-East) Infrared (10.7 µm) and Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images of this 1998 storm are shown below (and are also available as YouTube videos). This storm set all-time minimum barometric pressure records for the state of Minnesota, with 962 mb (28.43″) recorded at Albert Lea and Austin in southern Minnesota. On the cold side of the storm, up to 12.5 inches of snow fell at Sioux Falls in southeastern South Dakota. Wind gusts were as high as 64 mph in Minnesota and 94 mph in Wisconsin.

GOES-8 Infrared (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-8 Infrared (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-8 Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-8 Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Hourly GOES Animations from August 2015

September 1st, 2015 |


The YouTube video embedded above shows GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images each hour for all of August 2015. The 10.7 µm Infrared window channel animation is shown below. Both show a remarkable lack of thunderstorm activity in the Caribbean Sea.


In addition, hourly Water Vapor (6.5 µm) and Infrared window channel (10.7 µm) imagery from GOES-15 is shown below.



The GOES-15 imagery includes the northern fringe of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, and the active Eastern Pacific hurricane season is apparent, including several storms that have threatened the state of Hawai’i. The atypically strong August storm that hit the Pacific Northwest is also seen at the end of the animations.

Himawari-8 true-color imagery

August 6th, 2015 |
Himawari-8 true-color images (click to play YouTube animation)

Himawari-8 true-color images (click to play YouTube animation)

A sequence of 10-minute interval Himawari-8 true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images covering the period 01 August to 06 August 2015 is shown above (also available as a very large 721 MByte animated GIF, a 66 Mbyte MP4 movie file, or an alternate version here on YouTube). One of the most prominent features seen is Typhoon Soudelor in the West Pacific Ocean, which reached Category 5 Super Typhoon intensity late in the day on 03 August, as indicated in a plot of the Advanced Dvorak Technique intensity estimate from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below).

Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) intensity estimation plot for Super Typhoon Soudelor (click to enlarge)

Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) intensity estimation plot for Super Typhoon Soudelor (click to enlarge)

Other features of interest seen during this 6-day animation include hazy-white plumes of urban pollution and/or wildfire smoke streaming eastward off the Asian continent, as well as light brown or tan-colored plumes of blowing dust/sand originating from the interior desert regions.

The Himawari-8 AHI data are provided by the JMA, acquired by NOAA/NESDIS/STAR, and processed at SSEC/CIMSS. The true-color images use information from AHI bands 1, 2, and 3, combined with a customized contrast stretch algorithm. No background image was used.

Typhoon Soudelor in the Pacific

August 5th, 2015 |


The animation above shows two-plus days of 10.35 µm Infrared imagery (from Himawari-8) of Typhoon Soudelor over the western Pacific Ocean. The animation of 2.5-minute interval images is from the Himawari-8 Target Sector that shifts as the Typhoon moves. The animation shows significant strengthening to Category 5 intensity and subsequent weakening as the storm undergoes an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC). That ERC is apparent in the MIMIC morphed microwave imagery, below. In addition, an SST Analysis from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site shows the storm traversing an area of relatively cooler Sea Surface Temperatures. Strengthening is expected in the next days as the storm approaches Taiwan.

Morphed Microwave Imagery centered on Soudelor, 1200 UTC 3 August - 1200 UTC 5 August 2015 [click to enlarge]

Morphed Microwave Imagery centered on Soudelor, 1200 UTC 3 August – 1200 UTC 5 August 2015 [click to enlarge]

A visible animation (0.52 µm, 2.5-minute time steps) from Himawari-8, below, (available here as an mp4, or here on YouTube) during the day on 4 August, shows a relatively clear eye with embedded vortices. In addition, tranverse banding at the cirrus level is obvious.

Himawari-8 0.52 µm imagery, 3-4 August 2015 [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 0.52 µm imagery, 3-4 August 2015 [click to play 100+ Megabyte animation]

Suomi NPP overflew Soudelor during the night on 4 August. The toggle between the VIIRS Day/Night Band visible (0.70 µm) image and the Infrared (11.45 µm) image is shown below (courtesy William Straka, SSEC). The three-quarter full moon supplied ample illumination to yield a very crisp visible image at night.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band visible imager (0.70 µm) and infrared (11.45 µm) image at 1608 UTC 4 August 2015 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band visible image (0.70 µm) and infrared (11.45 µm) image at 1608 UTC 4 August 2015 [click to enlarge]