The Great Lakes, viewed using GOES-16 and NOAA-20 imagery

January 21st, 2022 |

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

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) displayed mesovortices over southern Lake Michigan on 21 January 2022. The formation of these mesovortex features was aided by a mid-lake convergence of surface winds, which was suggested by RAP40 surface wind fields and shown n more detail by Metop-C ASCAT winds from this site (below).

Metop-C ASCAT surface scatterometer winds [click to enlarge]

Farther to the north, in spite of a cold night across northeast Wisconsin and Upper Michigan — with morning low temperatures of -30ºF at Laona, Wisconsin and -39ºF at Amasa, Michigan — GOES-16 Visible images (below) showed that southerly winds helped to open an ice lead near the center of Green Bay, with a slow northward drift of pack ice in the northern half of the bay. A lone ice floe was also seen moving northward near the western edge of the clouds in Lake Michigan.

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

A toggle between NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color and False Color RGB images (below) revealed a more detailed view of the ice structure — and also showed the narrow southwest-to-northeast oriented damage path that remained from a June 2007 EF-3 tornado that went through a portion of Menominee, Langlade and Oconto counties. The higher spatial resolution of the VIIRS imagery helped to highlight the aforementioned isolated ice floe in Lake Michigan (which appeared as cyan in the False Color RGB image).

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

To the east, mesovortices were also observed in Lake Huron – long with ice floes drifting away from the coast of Lower Michigan (below).

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

A was the case in Lake Michigan, these Lake Huron mesovortices were forming along an axis of surface wind convergence, seen in Metop-B ASCAT data (below).

Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds [click to enlarge]

A larger-scale toggle between NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color and False Color RGB images — created using data received from the SSEC/CIMSS Direct Broadcast ground station — provided a view of the entire Great Lakes region (below). 

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and False Color RGB images (credit: Margaret Mooney, CIMSS) [click to play animation]

Explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano

January 15th, 2022 |

JMA Himawari-8 True Color RGB images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

JMA Himawari-8 True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (above) showed the rapid expansion of a volcanic cloud following an explosive eruption of Hunga Tonga on 15 January 2022. An abrupt shock wave was also evident, which propagated radially outward in all directions.

The volcanic cloud also exhibited a striking appearance in GOES-17 (GOES-West) “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (below), with a pronounced arc of cloud-top gravity waves along its eastern edge as the bulk of the cloud material drifted westward. Pulsing concentric shock waves were also seen in the infrared imagery.

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (credit: Tim Schmit, NOAA/NESDIS/ASPB) [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

The explosive nature of the eruption could be seen by examining 10-minute GOES-17 Visible and Infrared images  during the first 30 minutes (below) — only 20 minutes after the 0400 UTC eruption onset, the infrared cloud-top brightness temperature had already cooled to -100ºC (placing it in the lower stratosphere).     

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm, right) images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

Beginning at 0705 UTC, a GOES-17 Mesoscale Domain Sector was positioned over the region, providing imagery at 1-minute intervals — Infrared images during the period 0705-1200 UTC are shown below. The crescent-shaped area of “bow shock wave” ripples persisted, due to the robust and dense volcanic cloud acting as an obstacle to the easterly winds within the stratosphere.  The 1-minute imaging was also able to capture the brief pulse of an overshooting top which exhibited an infrared brightness temperature of -105.18ºC at 0841 UTC (zoomed-in animation: GIF | MP4) — which could be a record cold cloud-top temperature, as sensed from a geostationary satellite (see this blog post).  

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP, viewed using RealEarth (below), also showed the region of cloud-top gravity waves (with minimal parallax compared to GOES-17) .  

VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP [click to enlarge]


Plot of 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Nandi, Fuji [click to enlarge]

Satellite-based lidar and limb sounder data indicated that the volcanic cloud reached maximum altitudes around 30-32 km — well into the lower stratosphere, where easterly winds existed according to 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Nandi, Fiji (above). The westward drift of most of the volcanic cloud as seen in a Suomi-NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image (below) lined up well with wind barbs at 30 hPa (an altitude of 23.78 km on the Nandi NFFN sounding). 

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image, with 30 hPa wind barbs plotted in violet and rawinsonde sites plotted in yellow [click to enlarge]


GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) Time Difference images (credit: Tim Schmit, NOAA/NESDIS/ASPB) [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

Propagation of the volcanic shock wave across the Pacific Ocean could be followed in GOES-17 (GOES-West) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) Time Difference images (above). As the shock wave continued to propagate farther eastward across North/South America and then the Atlantic Ocean, the wave front could be seen in GOES-16 (GOES-East) Water Vapor Time Difference images (below). As the shock wave moved across southern Wisconsin, a brief rise/fall couplet in surface air pressure just prior to 1500 UTC (9:00 am CDT) was evident in plots from the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences building rooftop tower (as well as the personal weather station of the author of this blog post).

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) Time Difference images (credit: Tim Schmit, NOAA/NESDIS/ASPB) [click to play animated GIF | MP4]


GOES-17 and Himawari-8 visible imagery can be combined to create stereoscopic imagery of the eruption, as shown below.

GOES-17 Visible (Band 2, 0.64 µm) imagery, left, and Himawari-8 Visible (Band 3, 0.64 µm) imagery, right, 0400-0500 on 15 January 2022 (Click to enlarge)

Potential “neutercane” in the Southeast Pacific Ocean

January 12th, 2022 |

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (above) displayed the eye-like signature of a potential subtropical cyclone or “neutercane” over the Southeast Pacific Ocean on 12 January 2022. This type of mesoscale “hybrid” system has been observed near decaying cold fronts, or (as in this case) near the centers of aged occluded extratropical cyclones.

VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP as viewed using RealEarth (below) showed that deep convection — exhibiting cloud-top brightness temperatures of -40°C and colder, shades of green) — existed around the immediate edge of of the small eye.

VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP [click to enlarge]

Surface analyses from the Chile Navy Weather Service (below) depicted the small occluded cyclone as it was moving southeastward off the coast of Chile.

Surface analysis at 12 UTC and 18 UTC [click to enlarge]

SAR data for winds and ice over the Great Lakes

January 10th, 2022 |
Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM) observations over Lake Superior, 11:59 UTC on 10 January 2022 (Click to enlarge)

Data from this site shows SAR observations over the Great Lakes daily around 0000 and 1200 UTC. The image above shows SAR data over Lake Superior just before 1200 UTC on 10 January. The background flow used in processing shows strong northwesterly winds. Note the relative calm in the lee of the Keewenah peninsula, and an interesting boundary in the winds near Michipicoten Island. As noted in this blog post from December, the strongest winds are likely associated with enhanced Lake-Effect bands, as enhanced vertical mixing in those bands will allow stronger upper level winds to mix down to the lake surface.

Does ABI imagery show enhancements in the regions where the SAR data indicates enhanced mixing with convective bands? Consider the 3.9 µm image below (from this NOAA/STAR website) from 1201 UTC. Cold cloud tops northeast of Marquette MI do correlate well with the strong winds in that regions.

GOES-16 Band 7 (3.9 µm) at 1201 UTC on 10 January 2022 (click to enlarge)

Scatterometry can also be used to measure winds on the lake surface. The imagery below (from this website) shows vectors from the Chinese HY-2B scatterometer at 1330 UTC. Spatial resolution for this imagery is much coarser, and observations closer to shore do not occur. Northwest winds of at least 30 knots are indicated however.

HY-2B scatterometry at 1310 UTC, 10 January 2022 (Click to enlarge)

A careful observer of the SAR winds above might notice very strong winds in/around Little Bay de Noc, the northeastern part of Green Bay. Care must be taken to differentiate between ice and winds in regions where ice is present, as SAR data can be also used to identify regions of ice. The toggle below of NOAA-20 True and False color imagery over the western Great Lakes (from the VIIRS today website) does show cyan regions — typical of ice — over northeastern Green Bay. (Click here for highest resolution False Color imagery from NOAA-20 on 9 January)

NOAA-20 True and False color over the Great Lakes, 9 January 2022 (Click to enlarge)

What kind of wave heights are these strong northwesterly winds generating over Lake Superior? Altimetric data from SMAP, below, (source) shows 6-8 foot waves over western Lake Superior. The longer fetch for the region northeast of Marquette probably means much higher waves there.

Wave Heights (feet) at ~0315 UTC on 10 January 2022 (click to enlarge)