Dry air within an Atlantic subtropical ridge

November 16th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) showed a large region of very dry air within a subtropical ridge over the central North Atlantic Ocean on 16 November 2018. Infrared brightness temperatures were unusually warm (brighter yellow to red enhancement) on all 3 Water Vapor bands, especially along the western edge of the dry air.

A GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor image at 1700 UTC (below) showed a swath of NUCAPS sounding availability close to that time. The swath passed directly over the driest air within the subtropical ridge.

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor image at 1700 UTC, with a swath of NUCAPS sounding availability [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor image at 1700 UTC, with a swath of NUCAPS sounding availability [click to enlarge]

One of the green (high-quality) NUCAPS soundings within the arc of driest air (below) revealed a remarkably dry profile above the trade wind inversion — dewpoint values were -50ºC and colder within the 500-620 hPa layer, and dewpoint depressions were about 50ºC near the 550 hPa level.

NUCAPS sounding profile within the driest air [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS sounding profile within the driest air [click to enlarge]

Even though the middle to upper tropozphere was quite dry, note that the Total Precipitale Water (TPW) value calculated from the NUCAPS profile was 0.73 inch — there was still abundant tropical moisture within the marine boundary layer of the warm central Atlantic. The GOES-16 TPW product (below) showed minimum values of 0.6-0.8 inch in the region of driest air on the Water Vapor imagery (1800 UTC comparison). In contrast, TPW values over a large portion of the Lower 48 states were 0.6 inch or less, even in regions that appeared to be “moist” on the Water Vapor imagery.

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor + Total Precipitable Water [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor + Total Precipitable Water [click to play animation | MP4]