Gravity waves over the Gulf of Mexico and Florida

January 22nd, 2020 |

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-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 packet of gravity waves over the eastern Gulf of Mexico and southern Florida on 22 January 2020. Later time in the time period, there were isolated pilot reports of moderate turbulence in the vicinity of the waves (though it’s uncertain whether the gravity waves were directly responsible).

What caused these gravity waves to form and slowly propagate southeastward is also uncertain — earning this example its place in the “What the heck is this?” blog category. The SPC Mesoscale Analysis at 07 UTC (below) did show weak convergence of 300 hPa ageostrophic winds (dark blue oval) in the entrance region of a secondary jet streak “J” over the Gulf of Mexico — this convergence could have played a role in the gravity wave development.

SPC Mesoscale Analysis valid at 07 UTC, showing 300 hPa height, isotachs and ageostrophic winds [click to enlarge]

SPC Mesoscale Analysis valid at 07 UTC, showing 300 hPa height, isotachs and ageostrophic winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Derived Motion Winds (calculated using 6.9 µm imagery) in the vicinity of the gravity waves (below) had velocities in the 50-60 knot range at pressure levels of 370-380 hPa (0916 UTC).

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.2 um) Derived Motion Winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) Derived Motion Winds [click to enlarge]

Also of note was the fact that the surface of Florida was sensed by Low-level Water Vapor imagery (below). With an unseasonably cold, dry air mass moving southward over the peninsula, the 7.3 µm water vapor weighting function was shifted to lower altitudes — this allowed the thermal contrast between relatively cool land surfaces and the surrounding warmer water to be seen in the 7.3 µm imagery.

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

At Key West, Florida the Total Precipitable Water value of 0.3 inch calculated from 12 UTC rawinsonde data (below) was a new record for the date/time (the previous record minimum value was 0.36 inch).

Climatology of Total Precipitable Water for the Key West, Florida rawinsonde site [click to enlarge]

Climatology of Total Precipitable Water for the Key West, Florida rawinsonde site [click to enlarge]

Exploring the effect of parallax

January 10th, 2020 |

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images, including plot of SPC Storm Reports (with and without parallax correction) [click to play animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, including plot of SPC Storm Reports (with and without parallax correction) [click to play animation]

Overlapping 1-minute GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mesoscale Domain Sectors provided images at 30-second intervals over the Kansas/Missouri/Oklahoma/Arkansas area on 10 January 2019 — and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) included plots of SPC Storm Reports (with and without parallax correction) during the time period which produced the first 2 tornadoes (1 in southwestern Missouri, and 1 in northeastern Oklahoma) of a large-scale severe weather outbreak that continued into the subsequent nighttime hours and the following day.

The GOES-16 Visible images for the times corresponding to the 2 tornado reports (below) include “parallax-corrected” — shifted upward to match a 13 km cloud top, the Maximum Parcel Level calculated from the 18 UTC Springfield, Missouri sounding — and actual surface locations for each report. For the Oklahoma tornado report, the parallax-corrected location more closely matches the location of overshooting tops; for the Missouri tornado report, the parallax-corrected location more closely matches the location where a cluster of overshooting tops had passed several minutes earlier.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) image at 2030 UTC, including plot of SPC Storm Reports (with and without parallax correction) [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) image at 2030 UTC, including a Tornado report in Missouri (with and without parallax correction) [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) image at 2051 UTC, including plot of Tornado report (with and without parallax correction) [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) image at 2051 UTC, including a Tornado report in Oklahoma (with and without parallax correction) [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 parallax direction vectors and magnitude (km) for a cloud top feature at 50,000 feet (or 15.2 km) are shown below for select locations across the GOES-16 CONUS domain — a webapp that displays a current infrared image with user-selectable cloud heights is available here. Circled is a vector and magnitude in an area close to that shown in the images above.  Note: the length of the vectors does not correspond to the actual distance of parallax correction.

GOES-16 parallax direction vectors and magnitude (km) for a cloud top feature at 15 km [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 parallax direction vectors and magnitude (km) for a cloud top feature at 50,000 feet (15.2 km) [click to enlarge]

Similar webapps are available for the GOES-16 Full Disk, GOES-17 CONUS and GOES-17 Full Disk sectors.

GOES-17 parallax correction direction vectors and magnitude (km) for a cloud top feature at 50,000 feet (15.2 km) [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 parallax direction vectors and magnitude (km) for a cloud top feature at 50,000 feet (15.2 km) [click to enlarge]

Eruption of Popocatépetl in Mexico

January 9th, 2020 |

GOES-16 Low-, Mid- and Upper-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, 6.9 µm and 6.2 µm), Split Window Difference (10.3-12.3 µm) and Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-, Mid- and Upper-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, 6.9 µm and 6.2 µm), Split Window Difference (10.3-12.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Popocatépetl erupted at 1226 UTC on 09 January 2019 — GOES-16 (GOES-East) images of Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) and Split Window Difference (10.3-12.3 µm) (above) showed a higher-altitude ash plume moving rapidly south-southeastward, while ash at a lower altitude moved slowly north-northeastward.

The difference in speed and direction of ash transport was explained by plots of rawinsonde data from Mexico City and Acapulco at 12 UTC (below), which revealed stronger northwesterly winds within the 200-250 hPa pressure layer, with lighter southerly to southwesterly winds existing between 400 and 600 hPa.

Plots of rawinsonde data from Mexico City and Acapulco at 12 UTC [click to enlarge]

Plots of rawinsonde data from Mexico City (yellow) and Acapulco (cyan) at 12 UTC [click to enlarge]

At 1402 UTC a Mesoscale Domain Sector was positioned over Mexico — and 1-minute GOES-16 Ash RGB images created using Geo2Grid (below) tracked the distinct signature of the northern lower-altitude ash (brighter shades of pink to red) while the southern higher-altitude ash signature faded as it was more quickly dispersed by the stronger winds.

GOES-16 Ash RGB images {click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Ash RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

A GOES-16 Ash Height product from the NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Cloud Monitoring site (below) indicated that the southern ash plume exhibited heights in the 6-8 km range, with similar heights seen for the slow-moving northern ash feature.

GOES-16 Ash Height product [click to play animation MP4]

GOES-16 Ash Height product [click to play animation MP4]

Another outbreak of pyrocumulonimbus clouds in Australia

January 4th, 2020 |

Himawari-8

Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Following a multi-day outbreak in late December 2019, Australian bushfires flared up again across far eastern Victoria and far southeastern New South Wales (along and ahead of a cold frontal passage) on 04 January 2020. A JMA Himawari-8 Target Sector was positioned over that region, providing images at 2.5-minute intervals — “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images displayed the large smoke plumes with embedded pyro-convection, while Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images revealed the widespread fire thermal anomalies or “hot spots” (clusters of red pixels).

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images (below) showed the development of 2 pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) clouds — the first over southern New South Wales west of Cooma (station identifier YCOM), and the second to the southwest of YCOM (near the border between Victoria and New South Wales). The second pyroCb eventually exhibited cloud-top infrared brightness temperature (IRBT) values of -70ºC and colder (purple pixels). To be classified as a pyroCb, a deep convective cloud must be generated by a large/hot fire, and eventually exhibit cloud-top 10.4 µm IRBTs of -40ºC and colder (thus assuring the heterogeneous nucleation of all supercooled water droplets to ice crystals within the thunderstorm anvil).

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top) and "Clean" Infrared Window (10.4 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

An aircraft flying very near or through one of these pyroCb clouds experienced severe turbulence:



Farther to the north, another pyroCb developed near Nowra, New South Wales (YSNW) — which briefly exhibited a -40ºC cloud-top IRBT at 0319 UTC, but then re-intensified around 08 UTC (below).

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top) and "Clean" Infrared Window (10.4 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

In a sequence of VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 um) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP as viewed using RealEarth (below), the Nowra pyroCb was less ambiguous during the 03-04 UTC time period — and the aforementioned pair of pyroCbs straddling the border between Victoria and New South Wales were also evident.

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

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

===== 06 January Update =====

GOES-16 Natural Color RGB images + Smoke Detection derived product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Natural Color RGB images + Smoke Detection derived product [click to play animation | MP4]

On 06 January, GOES-16 (GOES-East) Natural Color RGB images (above) displayed the hazy signature of high-altitude smoke (originating from previous episodes of Australian fires) over parts of Chile and Argentina — and the corresponding GOES-16 Smoke Detection derived product flagged much of this feature as “High Confidence” smoke (red).

In addition, GOES-17 (GOES-West) True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (below) showed a dense pall of smoke over the South Pacific Ocean (northeast of New Zealand). This was smoke from the 04 January outbreak of fires.

GOES-17 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 08 January Update =====

GOES-17 True Color RGB images, 05-08 January [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 True Color RGB images, 05-08 January [click to play animation | MP4]

Full Disk GOES-17 True Color RGB images from the AOS site (above) showed the slow eastward transport of a dense pall of smoke (hazy shades of tan to light brown) across the South Pacific Ocean during the 05-08 January period.

Late in the day, GOES-17 True Color images also showed a small area of smoke drifting southward across the coast of Antarctica (below).

GOES-17 True Color images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 True Color images [click to play animation | MP4]

This was confirmed by the OMPS Aerosol Index product (below), which displayed a small lobe becoming detached from one of the larger smoke features crossing the South Pacific Ocean.

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index composites, 04-08 January (credit: Colin Seftor, SSAI)

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index composites, 04-08 January (credit: Colin Seftor, SSAI)