Snow squalls in Montana

February 27th, 2021 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images (above) showed a cluster of convective features propagating south-southeastward over and to the east of Billings, Montana on 27 February 2021. The shades of green in the RGB images indicated that some of these cloud tops were glaciating, suggesting enough vertical development to produce significant precipitation — and the resulting snow squalls could have contributed to a multi-vehicle accident which closed down Interstate 90 (between Billings and the I-90/I-94 junction) shortly after 1900 UTC. A brief accumulation of 1.3 inches was reported just north of Billings around the time of the accident, and the 1900 UTC surface visibility dropped to 3/4 mile at Billings airport (but was likely lower where the more intense snow squalls were occurring farther east).

The corresponding GOES-17 (GOES-West) Visible/RGB animations are available here: GIF | MP4. A toggle between the 1901 UTC Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images from GOES-16 and GOES-17 is shown below. The satellite viewing angles are nearly equivalent from both satellites (around 60 degrees) — but the apparent location of the snow squall features is shifted, due to parallax.

1901 UTC Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images from GOES-16 and GOES-17 [click to enlarge]

1901 UTC Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images from GOES-16 and GOES-17 [click to enlarge]

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