Ice motion on the Great Lakes

February 19th, 2021 |

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

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

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) revealed the fracturing of land-fast ice in the far southern portion of Lake Michigan on 19 February 2021. Although the westerly wind speeds were not particularly strong — generally 15-20 knots over water, including Metop ASCAT winds early in the day — these winds in tandem with lake currents were enough to move some of this ice eastward.

Farther to the north over western Lake Superior, 5-minute CONUS sector GOES-16 Visible images (below) also showed a significant amount of ice motion during the day.

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

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

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color RGB image viewed using RealEarth (below) provided a more detailed look at the ice structure over western Lake Superior at 1653 UTC. Ice and areas of vegetation-sparse snow cover (rivers, lakes and wildfire burn scars) appear as shades of cyan in the RGB image.

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

===== 20 February Update =====

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

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

On 20 February, another look at 1-minute GOES-16 Visible images over southern Lake Michigan (above) indicated that new ice leads were opening up within individual ice floes that had broken free a day earlier.

===== 21 February Update =====

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

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

On 21 February, GOES-16 Visible images (above) showed how southerly winds were shifting much the ice in Lake Erie to the north. However, the effects of lake currents on the ice motion were also evident. As mentioned in this blog post, ice coverage on Lake Erie was around 80%.

Arctic outbreak with snow cover extending to South Texas

February 15th, 2021 |

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

In the wake of a southward surge of arctic air across the central US — which produced surface temperatures as cold as -50ºF in Minnesota on 13 February — GOES-16 (GOES-East) Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images (above) showed the large areal extent of snow cover (brighter shades of green) across Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas on 15 February 2021. In the RGB images, low-level supercooled water droplet clouds appear as pale shades of white.


A closer view of GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images (below) showed the far southern extent of snow cover across northern Mexico and southern Texas. Precipitation briefly transitioned from rain to snow as far south as Brownsville, but there was no accumulation at that site.

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (below) revealed a number of lake effect cloud plumes across northern and eastern Texas, as cold air moved across the warmer waters of small lakes.

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images, with and without plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images, with and without plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

Farther north over the Texas Panhandle, GOES-16 “Snow/Ice” images (below) showed a small cloud plume originating at the Xcel Energy Harrington Station power plant just north-northwest of Amarillo (KAMA). Note the drop in surface visibility to 5 miles at 17 UTC — this was likely due to snow flurries as the cloud plume drifted over the airport.

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A timely overpass of Landsat-8 provided a 30-meter resolution False Color RGB image at 1721 UTC, as viewed using RealEarth (below) — as the cloud plume drifted over the KAMA airport, the 17 UTC METAR surface report indicated that the cloud base was at 1000 feet.

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

===== 16 February Update =====

GOES-16 CIMSS Natural Color RGB images, with plots of Metop-A ASCAT winds and surface/ship reports [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 CIMSS Natural Color RGB images, with plots of Metop-A ASCAT winds and surface/ship reports [click to play animation | MP4]

On the following day, GOES-16 CIMSS Natural Color RGB images with plots of Metop-A ASCAT winds (above) showed how Tehuano gap winds had moved through Chivela Pass in southern Mexico (topography) and were spreading out across the Gulf of Tehuantepec (south of Ixtepec, station identifier MMIT). The highest surface scatterometer wind speeds were 24 knots near the coast.

With a low sun angle maximizing forward scattering, a plume of blowing dust could be seen right after sunrise in GOES-17 (GOES-West) True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (below), moving southward across the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

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

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

Ice formation in southern Lake Michigan

February 7th, 2021 |

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

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

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) revealed an increasing amount of ice coverage within the nearshore waters of southern Lake Michigan on 07 February 2021 — this was due to a recent influx of arctic air across the Upper Midwest and western Great Lakes.

A sequence of VIIRS True Color RGB and False Color RGB images from Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 (below) provided 375-meter resolution views of the lake ice.

VIIRS True Color RGB and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color RGB and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

The MIRS Sea Ice Concentration product derived from Suomi-NPP ATMS data (below) depicted maximum values of 60-63% (lighter green), which was fairly consistent with the Ice Concentration analysis from GLERL.

MIRS Sea Ice Concentration product derived from Suomi-NPP ATMS data [click to enlarge]

MIRS Sea Ice Concentration product derived from Suomi-NPP ATMS data [click to enlarge]

The Suomi-NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product (below) revealed values of 34-39ºF along the leading edge of widespread lake effect cloud bands that were producing snowfall in Lower Michigan.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Sa Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

A 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image of the ice at 1917 UTC (from the MODIS Today site) is shown below.

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Finally, an overpass of Landsat-8 offered a 30-meter resolution view of a portion of the lake ice near Chicago, as visualized using RealEarth (below).

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Blowing snow across the Upper Midwest

February 6th, 2021 |

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Day Snow-Fog RGB images (above) showed widespread horizontal convective rolls (HCRs) which highlighted areas where blowing snow was more concentrated across parts of southern Manitoba and the Upper Midwest on 06 February 2021. Snow cover (and glaciated clouds) appeared as shades of red, with bare ground exhibiting lighter shades of green and low-level water droplet clouds appearing as brighter shades of white.

Closer views of the northern, central and southern portions of the region where blowing snow was most prevalent are shown below. The HCRs were evident during the early to late morning hours across southern Manitoba, far eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota — and then became more apparent across western/southern Minnesota extending into far northern Iowa as the day progressed. Surface reports showed that the visibility fluctuated dramatically at some sites as HCRs moved through.

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

Terra MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

In comparisons of MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images from Terra (above) and Aqua (below), the areal coverage of HCRs could be seen in the False Color imagery.

Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Farthest to the north, one cluster of HCRs appeared to originate over Lake Manitoba — as seen in 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color imagery from RealEarth (below).

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Lansdsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Two notable pilot reports across southern Minnesota (below) showed that flight visibility was restricted to 4 miles at an elevation of 3000 feet, and the tops of HCRs extended to 5000 feet.

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images, with plots of Pilot Reports [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images, with plots of Pilot Reports [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images, with plots of Pilot Reports [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images, with plots of Pilot Reports [click to enlarge]

Additional material on satellite identification of blowing snow is available here and here.