Orographic banner cloud over Southern California

December 22nd, 2019 |

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm), Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor and

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm), Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A sequence of GOES-17 (GOES-West) Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm), Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (above) showed a long-lived orographic banner cloud that formed in Southern California and extended about 200 miles to the northeast across southern Nevada on 22 December 2019. The banner cloud was formed by anomalously-strong southwesterly winds (925 hPa | 250 hPa) interacting with the high terrain of Southern California’s Transverse Ranges. At the surface, wind gusts as high as 86 mph were observed.

Within the banner cloud, the coldest GOES-17 Infrared brightness temperatures were in the -60 to -65ºC range — according to rawinsonde data from Vandenberg, California (below), those temperatures corresponded to altitudes in the 12-15 km range.

12 UTC rawinsonde data from Vandenberg, California [click to enlarge]

12 UTC rawinsonde data from Vandenberg, California [click to enlarge]

Solstice images of Antarctica and Alaska

December 21st, 2019 |

GOES-16

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

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed that most of Antarctica experienced 24 hours of full solar illumination during the Southern Hemisphere’s Summer Solstice on 21 December 2019. Through breaks in the cloud cover, a few bright areas of sun glint were also evident, moving from west to east, due to the reflection of sunlight off ice-free water.

In spite of receiving 24 hours of sunlight, interior areas of the continent remained quite cold — due to high elevation and deep snow cover. For example, surface air temperatures at station 8927 near the center of Antarctica remained within the -25 to -35ºF range on 21 December (source).

Surface air temperatures (ºF) at automated weather stations across Antarctica [click to enlarge]

Surface air temperatures (ºF) at automatic weather stations across Antarctica [click to enlarge]

In the Northern Hemisphere, GOES-17 (GOES-West) Visible images (below) revealed a few hours of illumination of the southern summits of Denali and nearby portions of the Alaska Range. Note the presence of much colder surface air temperatures (-20s and -30s F) north of the Alaska Range.

GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Farther to the north across Interior Alaska, some locations reported minimum air temperatures in the -40s to -50s F. A Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared image (below) showed surface brightness temperatures as cold as -50ºC or -58ºF (brighter yellow enhancement) in the Yukon Flats area around Fort Yukon (PFYU).

NOAA-20 VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) image at 2220 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) image at 2220 UTC [click to enlarge]

Stratus clouds affecting surface temperatures in Alaska

December 17th, 2019 |

GOES-17 Nighttime Microphysics RGB and

GOES-17 Nighttime Microphysics RGB and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A comparison of GOES-17 (GOES-West) Nighttime Microphysics RGB and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (above) showed the formation and motion of patchy stratus clouds (RGB shades of yellow) over Interior Alaska on 17 December 2019.  Note how the clouds are difficult to detect and track on the 10.35 µm images, since the temperatures of cold land surfaces and stratus cloud tops were similar. Since these high latitudes receive little to no sufficient solar illumination to allow useful visible imagery during the winter season, the RGB product can be a helpful tool for monitoring the evolution of such low clouds.

Plots of surface data from Bettles (PABT) and Fort Yukon (PFYU) (below) showed that the stratus cloud deck — with bases in the 6,000-10,000 feet range — had an impact on surface air temperature trends, with warming occurring as radiational cooling was slowed and/or reversed as the clouds moved overhead. Temperatures continued to rise at Bettles as the cloud coverage remained broken to overcast, while the temperature briefly dropped again at Fort Yukon as the cloud coverage thinned to scattered.

Plot of surface data from Bettles, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Plot of surface data from Bettles, Alaska (PABT) [click to enlarge]

Plot of surface data from Fort Yukon, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Plot of surface data from Fort Yukon, Alaska (PFYU) [click to enlarge]

Chinook winds and an atmospheric river affect south-central Alaska

December 9th, 2019 |

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images, along with

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images, along with “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 (GOES-West) Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm), Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed orographic wave clouds and banner clouds associated with strong winds across south-central Alaska on 09 December 2019. These strong winds were associated with flow around a deepening Storm Force low that was moving from the Gulf of Alaska to the Bering Sea (surface analyses). Downsloping (southeasterly) chinook winds (topography) caused the air temperature at Anchorage International Airport (PANC) to rise to 51ºF** at 2200 UTC (11:00 am local time) — which set a new record high for the month of December at that site (** the 5-minute ASOS temperatures are reported in ºC — and rounding errors caused the converted temperature to be listed as 52ºF).



The Storm Force low was also helping to advect an atmospheric river of moisture northward toward south-central Alaska, which was depicted in hourly images of the MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (below). Heavy rainfall (including 1.30 inch at Homer) resulting from this influx of moisture produced rises in some rivers in the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage.

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to play animation | MP4]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to play animation | MP4]