Derecho in South Dakota

June 7th, 2020 |

GOES-16 ABI Band 13 (10.3 µm) infrared imagery, 1901 6 June 2020 – 0656 7 June 2020 (Click to play mp4 animation)


Portions of the High Plains and intermountain states experienced a climatologically rare Derecho event oni 6-7 June 2020. (Here is a preliminary write-up on this event from the National Weather Service in Rapid City SD;  the forecast office in Boulder discussed the event here.). The GOES-16 Clean window infrared (10.3 µm) animation, above, (Click here for the same animation as an animated gif) shows rapid development over western South Dakota late in the afternoon of 6 June. The swath of wind reports is shown in this graphic from the Storm Prediction Center.

Several satellite-based thermodynamic estimates keyed in on South Dakota as a region where instability was noteworthy. The GOES-16 All-Sky Convective Available Potential Energy (available here), shown below from 2026 UTC on 6 June when values were greatest, for example, showed a persistent corridor of instability across South Dakota.

GOES-16 ‘All-Sky’ estimates of Convective Available Potential Energy, 2026 UTC on 6 June 2020 (Click to enlarge)

NUCAPS estimates of 700-500 mb lapse rates, below (from this site), show pronounced instability upstream of South Dakota at 1945 UTC, when Suomi-NPP overflew the region. (Most of the soundings used to produce the lapse rate information were from successful infrared retrievals as shown in this graphic).

700-500 mb Lapse Rates derived from Suomi NPP NUCAPS soundings, 1945 UTC on 6 June 2020 (Click to enlarge)

Surface moisture had pooled over western South Dakota. That is shown in the plot below of surface dewpoints showing very unusual (for South Dakota) mid-60s dewpoints! Further evidence of the unusual moisture amounts over the high Plains (for early June) is in this sounding from Rapid City at 0000 UTC on 7 June (source); Precipitable Water is at 1.2″! This value is unusual for the location and time of year, as shown here (Source).

Surface Dewpoints, 2100 UTC on 6 June 2020 over South Dakota and surrounding states (Click to enlarge)

GOES-17 Full-Disk imagery (at 10-minute time-steps) captured an oblique view of the developing convection. (The ‘PACUS’ sector with 5-minute imagery terminates in west-central South Dakota so is not used here; A GOES-17 Mesoscale sector was not in place for this event, although a GOES-16 one was).

GOES-17 Visible Imagery (0.64 µm) on 7 June 2020, 0000 – 0220 UTC (Click to animate)

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 “Red” Visible images with time-matched plots of SPC Storm Reports are shown below.

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

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