A View of the Development of Geostationary Imagers through the lens of BAMS

May 14th, 2020 |

A collection of 60 BAMS covers spanning the years, to highlight the rapid advance of imaging from the geostationary orbit, is shown above (a version that loops more slowly can be seen here). The first cover is the first of BAMS, in January of 1920, while the second, from January of 1957 is the first time artificial ‘satellite’ was in a title of a BAMS article. The third image, from November of 1957, is a remarkable article on potential uses of satellites. This included both qualitative uses: (1) Clouds, (2) Cloud Movements, (3) Drift of Atmospheric Pollutants, (4) State of the Surface of the Sea (or of Large Lakes), (5) Visibility or Atmospheric Transparency to Light — and quantitative uses: (1) Albedo, (2) Temperature  of  a  Level  at  or  Near  the Tropopause, (3) Total Moisture Content., (4) Total  Ozone  Content, (5) Surface  (Ground-Air Interface) Temperature, and (6) Snow Cover. Early covers showcase rockets, balloons and high-altitude aircraft to prepare the way to human space travel (Gemini, Apollo, etc.), polar-orbiters (TIROS, NIMBUS, VHRR, NOAA, etc.) and finally geostationary orbit (ATS-1, ATS-3, SMS, GOES, Meteosat, INSAT, Himawari, etc.).

Reasons to look back at the BAMS covers:

Interactive web page, with links to the original “front matter”.

Montage of select BAMS covers

Montage of select BAMS covers

Note: All cover images are from the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

A look back at “Hurricane Huron” in 1996

September 14th, 2018 |

GOES-8 Visible (0.65 µm) images, with hourly surface wind barbs and gusts [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-8 Visible (0.65 µm) images, with hourly surface wind barbs and gusts [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-8 Visible (0.65 µm) images (above) showed the cloud features — including spiral banding and a cloud-free core resembling an eye — associated with a deepening area of low pressure over Lake Huron (surface analyses) on 14 September 1996. This storm acquired some characteristics of a tropical cyclone, being referred to in the literature as “Hurricane Huron“.

A look back at the Blizzard of 02-04 January 1999

January 1st, 2016 |

GOES-8 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-8 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

The evolution of the Blizzard of 02-04 January 1999 — which impacted large portions of the Midwest and Great Lakes regions of the US, as well as parts of eastern Canada — was captured by GOES-8 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, 8-km resolution) images (above; also available as a 61-Mbyte animated GIF). On 01 January, the water vapor image signature of a shortwave trough over New Mexico and Texas could be seen, which began to intensify and move northeastward; at the same time, the signature of another shortwave trough began moving southeastward across eastern Montana and the Dakotas. Energy from this northern shortwave appeared to phase with that of the southern shortwave late on 02 January into early on 03 January, helping the storm to further intensify.

GOES-8 Infrared (10.7 µm, 4-km resolution) images (below; also available as a 111-Mbyte animated GIF) showed that cloud-top IR brightness temperatures began to cool into the -50 to -60º C range (orange to red color enhancement) over large portions of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions during the day on 02 January. As the bulk of the storm energy moved northeastward over Canada on 03-04 January, evidence of clouds associated with a TROugh of Warm air ALoft (TROWAL) persisted across parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

GOES-8 Infrared (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-8 Infrared (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Even though some patches of clouds remained in the aftermath of the blizzard on 04 January, the extent of snow cover across much of the eastern US could be seen — from northern Arkansas to Minnesota, and from the Dakotas and Nebraska to Ohio — on GOES-8 Visible (0.65 µm, 1-km resolution) images (below; also available as a 15 Mbyte animated GIF). Bands of lake effect snow were also evident over each of the Great Lakes, as very cold arctic air flowed across the ice-free waters in the wake of the storm.

GOES-8 Visible (0.65 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-8 Visible (0.65 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

In the Upper Midwest region, storm total snowfall amounts included: 28.0 inches in South Haven, Michigan; 26.8 inches in Plymouth, Indiana; 23.0 inches in Dalton, Wisconsin; and 19.6 inches a Chicago O’Hare, Illinois. Chicago recorded 18.6 inches of snow on 02 January — their largest single-day snowfall on record. In Canada, Toronto, Ontario’s Pearson International Airport was closed by the storm, where 16.0 inches of snow fell. With deep snow cover and a cold post-storm arctic air mass in place, the all-time record low temperature for the state of Illinois (-36º F) was set at Congerville on 05 January.

Additional details on the January 1999 Blizzard can be found here and here.

40th Anniversary of the “Edmund Fitzgerald Storm”

November 10th, 2015 |

NOAA-4 daytime and nighttime Infrared composites [click to enlarge]

NOAA-4 daytime and nighttime Infrared composites [click to enlarge]

Today marks the 40-year anniversary of the powerful Great Lakes storm that was responsible for the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald (which occurred on 10 November 1975). The image composites (above, courtesy of Jean Phillips, Schwerdtfeger Library) were constructed from daytime and nighttime overpasses of the NOAA-4 polar-orbiting satellite, and show the large cloud shield of the storm moving northeastward from the Great Lakes into eastern Canada during the 10-11 November 1975 period. The rapidly-intensifying nature of the storm can seen by comparing the 12 UTC surface analyses on 09 November and 10 November.

Since the first operational geostationary weather satellites (SMS-1 and SMS-2) were relatively new back in 1975, the CIMSS Regional Assimilation System (CRAS) model was utilized to generate synthetic Infrared (IR) satellite images to provide a general idea of what the satellite imagery might have looked like for this intense storm. The 48-hour sequence of synthetic CRAS IR images (below) shows the evolution of the model-derived cloud features at 1-hour intervals.

CRAS model simulated Infrared imagery [click to enlarge]

CRAS model simulated Infrared imagery [click to enlarge]

Additional information about this Edmond Fitzgerald storm can be seen on this website, as well as the NWS Marquette and this journal article.

A strong storm of similar character developed over the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region on 9-11 November 1998. GOES-8 (GOES-East) Infrared (10.7 µm) and Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images of this 1998 storm are shown below (and are also available as YouTube videos). This storm set all-time minimum barometric pressure records for the state of Minnesota, with 962 mb (28.43″) recorded at Albert Lea and Austin in southern Minnesota. On the cold side of the storm, up to 12.5 inches of snow fell at Sioux Falls in southeastern South Dakota. Wind gusts were as high as 64 mph in Minnesota and 94 mph in Wisconsin.

GOES-8 Infrared (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-8 Infrared (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

 

GOES-8 Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-8 Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]