Atmospheric Bore structure over Wisconsin

September 20th, 2022 |
GOES-16 Visible imagery (0.64 ), 1056 – 1911 UTC on 20 September 2022

GOES-16 Visible Imagery, in the mp4 animation above (click here for an animated gif), shows convection initially over central Wisconsin at sunrise moving eastward over Lake Michigan into lower Michigan. In its wake, cloud lines extending east-west move southward into southward Wisconsin. Parallel lines such as these are typically associated with atmospheric bores, previously discussed many times on this blog (link). A bore is usually associated with stable air; note how the convective line over southwestern WI at around 1500 UTC dissipates after 1600 UTC as it encounters the stable air associated with the bore.

LightningCast Probabilities are consistent with the southern convective line encountering air that is more stable, as shown above in an animation that pauses at 1506 UTC; lightning probabilities decrease with the southern line as they increase with the northern line that eventually sweeps southward through southern Wisconsin, producing hail.

GOES-16 Visible imagery overlain with ProbSevere LightningCast probabilities and GLM Flash Extent Density, 1331 -1801 UTC on 20 September 2022 (Click to enlarge)

NOAA-20 overflew this region shortly after 1900 UTC on 20 September. The gridded 850-700 mb lapse rate, below, from this site, shows a region of more stable air over/around Chicago and southern Lake Michigan that is perhaps residual stability related to the bore feature.

Diagnosed 850-700 mb stability from NOAA-20 NUCAPS profiles, ca. 1915 UTC on 20 September 2022 (click to enlarge)

Shout-out to Rebecca, a forecaster at WFO GRB, for also noticing these lines!

The thunderstorms were followed by mammatus clouds over Madison, as shown in the image below, courtesy Bill Bellon, UW-Madison SSEC/CIMSS.

Mammatus clouds over Madison WI, 19 September 2022 (Click t0 enlarge). Photo Credit: Bill Bellon

TL;DR: Departing convection put down stable layer defined by atmospheric bore. Convection encountering this stable layer dissipated. Stronger convection moved in later, depositing hail.

When Atmospheric Bores cause Severe Weather

June 1st, 2019 |

RadarScope imagery from shortly after 0900 UTC on 01 June 2019 (Click to play .mov animation)

Strong near-surface inversions over the upper-midwest early on 1 June 2019 (as shown by 1200 UTC Skew-Ts at Green Bay, WI, Detroit/WhiteLake, MI and Gaylord, MI) helped support the presence of southward-propagating bore features, as shown in the still image (an animation) of radar imagery above (Courtesy Fred Best, SSEC), and (more subtly) in the water vapor imagery (Courtesy Scott Bachmeier) below.

The pressure sensor at the top of the Atmospheric Oceanic and Space Science Building showed many small time-scale pressure perturbations on this day. (Image courtesy Pete Pokrandt)

Water Vapor Imagery from to on 1 June 2019; Low-level (GOES-16 ABI Band 10, 7.34 µm) on the left ; mid-level (GOES-16 ABI Band 9, 6.95 µm) in the center; upper-level (GOES-16 ABI Band 8, 6.19 µm) on the right

Later in the day, strong convection developed over southwestern Lower Michigan, starting shortly after 2215 UTC.  The visible imagery below shows 1-minute imagery (GOES-16 ABI Band 2, 0.64 µm) from a Mesoscale sector positioned over the convection.  At the start, the parallel lines of low clouds suggest a bore feature is propagating southward towards strong convection over northern Indiana and northern Ohio.  Two things happen when that feature meets the convective outflow: some energy is apparently reflected to the north, but very strong convection rapidly develops near Battle Creek MI, where 2″ hail was observed at 2235 UTC (SPC Storm Reports).

GOES-16 ABI 1-minute Visible (0.64 µm) imagery, 2115-2149 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to play animated gif)

The clean window (GOES 16 ABI Band 13, 10.3 µm) animation during the day, below, show many features suggesting bore/gravity wave propagation over the area. It is challenging to pick out the impulse from this animation that lead to the severe convection that hit Battle Creek.

GOES-16 ABI Infrared (10.3 µm, Band 13 “Clean Window”) imagery, 1001-2331 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to play animated gif)

The Low-Level water vapor animation, shown below, also shows many features that resemble gravity waves or bores, but it also shows a line of parallel features moving towards the site of convective initiation (Consider this short loop from 2126 to 2156 UTC, for example).

GOES-16 ABI Water Vapor (7.3 µm, Band 10 “Low-Level Water Vapor”) infrared imagery, 1001-2331 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to play animated gif)

For convection to initiate, instability should be present. The graphic below from the Storm Prediction Center mesoanalysis website shows a nose of unstable air (represented by high values of CAPE) encroaching into southwestern Lower Michigan.

SPC CAPE analysis, 2100 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to enlarge)

GOES-16 Baseline Products can also diagnose instability. On 1 June 2019, however, abundant cloudiness limited the utility of the Baseline clear-sky only products, but AllSky versions have been developed and are available online at this website. The animation below shows the evolution of the AllSky Lifted Index from 1826 through 2356 UTC on 1 June 2019. In agreement with the SPC analysis, the AllSky product shows a nose of instability pushing into southwestern lower Michigan. An southward-propagating impulse (apparent in both visible and low-level water vapor imagery) meeting this gradient in instability did initiate convection on this day.

GOES-16 AllSky Lifted Index, half-hourly from 1826 UTC to 2356 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to play animated gif)

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere (v.2), a tool designed to give confidence that severe weather might occur in the next 60 minutes, shown below, tracked the rapid evolution of the storm. ProbHail increased from 7% at 2220 UTC to 81% at 2230 UTC!

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere, with readout values, from 2200 to 2236 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to play animated gif)

The chart below, from John Cintineo, SSEC/CIMSS, graphically shows the very rapid development of Prob Hail values. Much of the increase in ProbHail was driven by MESH and Total Lightning observations. When an impulse enters a region of instability in a good environment, explosive growth can result.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere readout for Radar Object 411723 (the storm that produced Hail in Battle Creek MI on 1 June 2019) (Click to enlarge)

Many thanks to TJ Turnage, NWS Grand Rapids, for alerting us to this very interesting case.

A mid-tropospheric atmospheric bore viewed by GOES-15, GOES-14, and GOES-13

May 16th, 2015 |

GOES-15 (left), GOES-14 (center), and GOES-13 (right) 6.5 µm water vapor channel images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (left), GOES-14 (center), and GOES-13 (right) 6.5 µm water vapor channel images [click to play animation]

An elongated north-to-south oriented atmospheric bore was observed on GOES-15 (GOES-West), GOES-14, and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (above; click to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) on the morning of 16 May 2015. This bore feature was located in the area where strong westerly to southwesterly mid-tropospheric winds were impinging upon a consolidating dryline — this dryline later moved eastward and acted as the focus for severe thunderstorms across Texas (SPC storm reports). GOES-14 had been activated to perform Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSOR) duties beginning on 18 May.

Note that there were no parallel cloud rolls present on the corresponding GOES-15/14/13 0.63 µm visible channel imagery (below) — so this gravity wave bore feature was forming in clear air.

GOES-15 (left), GOES-14 (center), and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible and 6.5 µm water vapor channel images

GOES-15 (left), GOES-14 (center), and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible and 6.5 µm water vapor channel images

A comparison of 12 UTC El Paso, Texas (yellow) and Midland, Texas (cyan) rawinsonde data (below) showed the differences in vertical moisture profile to the west and to the east of the bore feature — especially in the 500-600 hPa layer, where a good deal of the signal contributing to the overall water vapor brightness temperature was originating from.

El Paso and Midland, Texas rawinsonde data profiles

El Paso and Midland, Texas rawinsonde data profiles

Atmospheric Bore between the Grand Banks and New England

May 8th, 2015 |

GOES-13 0.63 µm Visible images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm Visible images (click to play animation)

Atmospheric Bores form in stable air and create horizontal cloud bands that propagate perpendicular to the along-band direction. The feature seen above in GOES-13 visible imagery formed in stable air south of a High Pressure system that pushed a backdoor cold front into New England (surface analyses). The southern edge of this bore was likely eroding as it became influenced by warmer less-stable air over with the Gulf Stream — the warm waters of the Gulf Stream were apparent in the toggle, below, of POES AVHRR 0.86 µm visible and 12.0 µm infrared imagery at 1055 UTC. The bore was apparently moving over the top of a shallow layer of sea fog that had formed in the colder waters north of the Gulf Stream.

POES AVHRR 0.86 µm Visible image and 12.0 µm Infrared image at 1055 UTC on 8 May 2015 (click to enlarge)

POES AVHRR 0.86 µm Visible image and 12.0 µm Infrared image at 1055 UTC on 8 May 2015 (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP overflew the area at ~1800 UTC, affording a very high resolution view of the bore structures with the VIIRS 0.65 µm visible channel, below.


Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.65 µm) imagery, 1807 UTC on 8 May 2015 (Click to enlarge)

The daytime propagation of the bore feature could also be followed on POES AVHRR 0.86 µm visible channel images, shown below.

POES AVHRR 0.86 µm visible images (click to enlarge)

POES AVHRR 0.86 µm visible images (click to enlarge)