Dry air within an Atlantic subtropical ridgeGOES-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.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. 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.