Blowing dust aided by a sting jet across the central Plains

December 15th, 2021 |

GOES-16 Dust RGB and Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

A sequence of 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) Dust RGB and Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (above) showed the development of dense plumes of blowing dust (whose source regions were primarily in southeast Colorado and the Oklahoma/Texas Panhandles) on 15 December 2021. These dust plumes were being lofted by strong winds along and behind a cold front — which was associated with a rapidly-intensifying midlatitude cyclone. This storm then caused a broad swath of severe weather (SPC Storm Reports) as it moved rapidly northeastward toward the Great Lakes. 

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor images with and without contours of hourly RAP model PV1.5 pressure (below) identified a Potential Vorticity (PV) anomaly which tracked northeastward across the region, indicating that the “dynamic tropopause” descended to the 700-750 hPa pressure level — which helped to transfer the momentum of strong winds aloft toward the surface. The general appearance of the water vapor imagery was similar to that seen in other cases when a “sting jet” helped to transport momentum aloft to the surface where high winds were observed (a sting jet is often found near the hook-shaped “scorpion tail” portion of the water vapor signature). The downward transport of dry mid/upper tropospheric air was supported by a rapid decrease in surface dewpoint temperature, seen at at a number of sites where the dewpoint dropped to below 0ºF (for example, from west to east across Kansas at Johnson KS | Ulysses KS | Pratt KS). Note that the brightest shades of pink/magenta on the GOES-16 Dust RGB images were located behind the primary eastward-moving cold front, where stronger winds associated with the sting jet had descended to the surface.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with and without contours of hourly RAP model PV1.5 pressure [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

A toggle between NOAA-20 NUCAPS-derived Tropopause Height, Total Column Ozone and Total Column Ozone Anomaly from the NASA SPoRT site (below) supported the presence of a PV anomaly over northwestern Kansas around that time, characterized by a low tropopause with anomalously-high total column ozone (2000 UTC GOES-16 Water Vapor image + PV1.5 pressure).

NOAA-20 NUCAPS Tropopause Height, Total Column Ozone and Total Column Ozone Anomaly around 1948 UTC [click to enlarge]

 

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (above) highlighted the tan-colored blowing dust plumes (along with a couple of brighter-white wildfire smoke plumes) as they progessed northeastward across Kansas and Nebraska. A larger-scale view of GOES-16 Dust RGB images (below) showed that during the subsequent nighttime hours into the next morning, the brighter pink/magenta signature of blowing dust that became entrained into the circulation of the midlatitude cyclone could be followed as it eventually moved over parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Lake Superior — and eventually over far southern Ontario, Canada.  

GOES-16 Dust RGB images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

Satellite signatures of a “sting jet”

January 4th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Lower-level (7.3 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Lower-level (7.3 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

Satellite signatures of a phenomenon known as a “sting jet” have been shown previously on this blog here, here and here. GOES-16 (GOES-East) Lower-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images (above) revealed another classic example of the “scorpion tail” signature of a sting jet associated with the rapidly-intensifying storm off the coast of North Carolina on 04 January 2018.

The passenger cruise ship Norwegian Breakaway was en route to New York City from the Bahamas when it experienced very strong winds and rough seas early in the morning on 04 January (media story) — it appears as though the ship may have been in the general vicinity of this sting jet feature (ship data), where intense winds were descending to the surface from higher levels of the atmosphere:

 

A comparison of GOES-16 (GOES-East) and GOES-13 Water Vapor images (below) demonstrated how the GOES-16 improvement in spatial resolution  (2 km at satellite sub-point, vs 4 km for GOES-13) and more frequent imaging (routinely every 5 minutes over the CONUS domain, vs 15-30 minutes for GOES-13) helped to better follow the evolution of the sting jet feature. The 2 known locations of the Norwegian Breakaway around the time period of the image animation are plotted in red.

"Water

Water Vapor images from GOES-16 (6.9 µm, left) and GOES-13 (6.5 µm, right), with the 2 known locations of the Norwegian Breakaway plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

The sting jet signature was also apparent on GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (below).

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

In addition, the sting jet signature was evident in a Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image at 0614 UTC or 1:14 AM Eastern time (below). Through the clouds, the faint glow of city lights in far eastern North Carolina could be seen along the left edge of the image. The cloud features shown using the “visible image at night” VIIRS Day/Night Band were brightly-illuminated by the Moon, which was in the Waning Gibbous phase at 92% of Full; in addition, the hazy appearance just east of the tip of the sting jet cloud boundary was likely due to moonlight reflecting off of an agitated sea surface with large waves and abundant sea spray. A VIIRS instrument is also aboard the JPSS series of satellites, such as the recently-launched NOAA-20.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Another view of the sting jet signature was seen in a 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image at 0725 UTC (below).

Aqua MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Possible Sting Jet Associated with strong storm in Europe

October 28th, 2013 |

Meteosat-10 6.2 µm WV channel images (click to play animation)

Meteosat-10 6.2 µm WV channel images (click to play animation)

Sting jets are wind maxima near the end of bent-back fronts in cases of strong cyclones. As noted earlier on this blog, they can acquire a characteristic look in water vapor imagery, vaguely reminiscent of a scorpion’s stinger. In addition, strongly sinking air around the jet, usually associated with both a tropopause fold and a maximum in ozone, is manifest as a warm (dry) patch in the water vapor (WV) imagery. In the animation above, the sting jet is apparent moving across northern Denmark into southern Sweden between 1500 and 1800 UTC. This is in association with the ‘St. Jude’ storm that killed more than a dozen across northern Europe (Reuters news story).

The strong sinking near a sting jet can transport momentum down to the surface. You should therefore expect to see strong surface wind gusts near the water vapor satellite signature, and that was the case on October 28, as shown below.

Hourly Meteosat-10 6.2 µm WV channel images and Observed Surface Wind Gusts (click to play animation)

Hourly Meteosat-10 6.2 µm WV channel images and Observed Surface Wind Gusts (click to play animation)

Suomi/NPP viewed this storm early in the day on 28 October. The toggle between the VIIRS Day/Night Band and the 11.45 µm IR data, below, shows a developing baroclinic leaf over the British Isles.

Toggle between VIIRS Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR imagery at 0220 UTC on 28 October (click to enlarge)

Toggle between VIIRS Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR imagery at 0220 UTC on 28 October (click to enlarge)

A comparison of Aqua MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 11.0 µm IR, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images visualized using the SSEC Web map Server (below; courtesy of Russ Dengel and Kathy Strabala, SSEC) showed the storm at 12:14 UTC on 28 October. The warm/dry signature of strongly-subsiding middle to lower tropospheric air was particularly evident on the water vapor image (yellow to orange color enhancement) as it was beginning to move eastward over Denmark.

Aqua MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 11.0 µm IR, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

Aqua MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 11.0 µm IR, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

For additional satellite images of this event, see the EUMETSAT Image Library and the Wide World of SPoRT.

Possible Sting Jet in Upper Midwest

March 12th, 2012 |

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

The water vapor animation from GOES-East on March 12th shows a structure rotating through the upper-level trough, which structure looks very much like a so-called “Sting Jet”. (In the animation above, the sting jet structure crosses the Missouri/Kansas border south of Kansas City, propagates across northern Missouri and eastern Iowa before moving northward into Wisconsin). (A more obvious Sting Jet event is discussed here; A Monthly Weather Review article on Sting Jets is here).

RUC wind analyses show that the sting jet structure was associated with a wind maximum on the 315 Kelvin isentropic surface. This Loop shows the maximum moving from northeastern Missouri into Central Wisconsin between 1000 and 1400 UTC on March 12th. Stability in the lower troposphere on March 12th (as suggested by this sounding from the Quad Cities in Iowa/Illinois) was strong enough to inhibit vertical mixing of stronger upper-tropospheric air down towards the surface. The circulation around the jet was sufficient, however, to generate showers over the upper Midwest, as shown in this loop.

MODIS 6.5 µm water vapor channel image

MODIS 6.5 µm water vapor channel image

MODIS water vapor imagery, above, from 0841 UTC on 12 March shows the sting jet structure in north-central Missouri, and curving back to central Nebraska and central South Dakota.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible image

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible image

(Added 13 March: SPC Storm Reports show a rare March tornado north of I-69 in lower Michigan. The visible imagery above, bracketing the observed time of the tornado (near the yellow box), shows a strong thunderstorm. By this time, the possible sting jet has rotated northward into western Ontario, so its influence on the environment in Michigan would be secondary. The sounding from DTX at 2300 UTC shows a favorable low-level wind profile.)