Cutoff low over northern Alaska

June 12th, 2020 |

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with contours of PV1.5 Pressure plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with contours of PV1.5 Pressure plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 (GOES-West) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (above) showed the circulation of an anomalous middle-tropospheric cutoff low over the northwestern portion of Alaska on 12 June 2020. A Potential Vorticity (PV) anomaly associated with this low was causing the dynamic tropopause — represented by the pressure of the PV1.5 surface — to descend as low as the 500 hPa pressure level.

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with contours of PV1.5 Pressure plotted in red and available NUCAPS sounding profiles denoted by green/yellow points [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with contours of PV1.5 Pressure plotted in red and available NUCAPS sounding profiles denoted by green/yellow points [click to enlarge]

Just after 21 UTC, an overpass of the Suomi NPP satellite provided NUCAPS soundings (above) within much of the core of the cutoff low — the green NUCAPS sounding profile about 40 miles east/southeast of the 500 hPa PV1.5 pressure contour (below) displayed an apparent tropopause near the 400 hPa pressure level.

NUCAPS sounding profile [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS sounding profile [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) revealed the development of numerous showers and thunderstorms across the Brooks Range and North Slope of Alaska, aided by instability beneath the cutoff low.

GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

A higher spatial resolution view of these showers and thunderstorms was provided by a sequence of VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP, as viewed using RealEarth (below). A few of these thunderstorms moved toward the Arctic Coast, with one fairly impressive storm just southwest of Katovik which exhibited cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures near -60ºC (red enhancement) around 23 UTC.

VIIRS True Color (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]


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