Developing winter storm over Colorado

March 19th, 2020 |

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 um) images, with hourly plots of surface wind barbs and gusts (knots) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 um) images, with hourly plots of surface wind barbs and gusts (knots) [click to play animation | MP4]

As a winter storm began to organize over Colorado on 19 March 2020, GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 um) images (above) showed the developing  middle tropospheric cyclonic circulation across the Colorado/Kansas/Nebraska border area. Peak wind gusts included 60 mph in Colorado and Nebraska, and 62 mph in Kansas (WPC Storm Summary).

As a result of the strong winds, several areas of blowing dust were seen in GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 um), Split Window Difference (10.3-12.3 um) and Dust Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (below): (1) a well-defined plume that originated in southeastern Colorado and moved northeastward across western Kansas, (2) a smaller plume originating north/northwest of Lamar, Colorado which moved eastward toward the Colorado/Kansas border, (3) a small plume that originated over the burn scar from the 07 March “Beaver Fire” in the Oklahoma Panhandle, and (4) multiple narrow plumes of dust in the wake of a cold front that moved southeastward across the region late in the day (which reduced the surface visiblity to 2 miles in southwestern Kansas).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 um), Split Window Difference (10.3-12.3 um) and Dust RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

A NOAA-20 True Color RGB image as viewed using RealEarth (below) provided a more detailed view of the dust plume north of Lamar, Colorado as well as the longer plume which stretched from southeastern Colorado into western Kansas.

NOAA-20 True Color RGB image at 18:40 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 True Color RGB image at 18:40 UTC [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Visible images with plots of GLM Groups (below) revealed a few clusters of lightning associated with convective elements that were likely producing thundersnow across northeastern Colorado and near the Colorado/Nebraska border. Where warmer air was still present near the Colorado/Kansas border, a more longer-lived thunderstorm was producing rainfall at the surface.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 um) images, with GLM Groups plotted in red and hourly surface weather type plotted in yellow [click to play animation | MP4]



===== 20 March Update =====

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]

On the following day, GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images (above) showed the large swath of fresh snow cover (shades of green) produced by this storm as it moved northeastward across the Upper Midwest. Clouds persisted over much of eastern Colorado, masking the extent of the snow cover there.

===== 21 March Update =====

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image, with and without labels [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image at 1724 UTC, with and without labels [click to enlarge]

On 21 March, a decrease in cloudiness over eastern Colorado allowed much of the snow cover (shades of cyan) to be seen in a swath of 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color imagery as viewed using RealEarth (above). The effects of terrain were evident, with a lack of snow cover seen in areas where downslope flow was prevalent during the winter storm.

The effect of snow cover on boundary layer cloud development

March 15th, 2020 |

GOES-16 Snow/Cloud Discrimination RGB images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Snow/Cloud Discrimination RGB images, with hourly plots of surface wind barbs (knots) [click to play animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Snow/Cloud Discrimination” Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (above) revealed a west-to-east oriented band of fresh snow cover (1-4 inches, shades of red) across central Illinois on 15 March 2020. With a low-level northeasterly flow of cold air across the region, boundary layer cumulus clouds began to develop as solar heating warmed the surface — but this cloud development was suppressed over deeper portions of the snow cover. These RGB images use “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) data as the Red component, and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) data as the Green and Blue components; bare ground appears as shades of cyan, with supercooled water droplet clouds appearing as brighter shades of white.

A sequence of VIIRS Snow/Cloud Discrimination RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP (below) showed a closer look at the band of snow cover and its effect on modulating the afternoon development of cumulus clouds.

VIIRS Snow/Cloud Discrimination RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Snow/Cloud Discrimination RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color RGB image viewed using RealEarth (below) provided a detailed view of the band of snow cover (shades of cyan) at 1622 UTC.

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image, with and without labels [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image, with and without labels [click to enlarge]

South Sandwich Islands volcanic and orographic cloud signatures

March 12th, 2020 |

GOES-16 Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Even though the South Sandwich Islands are near the limb of the GOES-16 (GOES-East) view, Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) images (above) were able to display a long volcanic plume (brighter shades of white) originating from Mount Michael on Saunders Island during the daylight hours on 12 March 2020. In addition, smaller/shorter volcanic plumes could also be seen originating from a few of the smaller islands just to the north of Saunders Island. The volcanic plumes were more reflective (brighter white) because they were comprised of smaller droplets compared to the expansive stratus/stratocumulus clouds over the South Atlantic Ocean.

The smaller cloud particles of the volcanic plume were also more efficient reflectors of incoming solar radiation, thus appearing warmer (darker shades of gray) in GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below).

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

2 days later, southerly/southwesterly winds interacting with the rugged terrain of the islands created von Kármán vortex streets downwind (north-northeast) of some of the islands (especially Montagu Island, the largest of the South Sandwich chain) — VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP  as visualized using RealEarth (below) provided a detailed view of these vortices.

VIIRS True Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

In spite of the lower spatial resolution and large satellite viewing angle, the von Karman vortices could also be seen in GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below).

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]

 

Tehuano gap wind event

February 27th, 2020 |

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with plots of surface reports (yellow), ASCAT winds (violet) and surface analyses (cyan) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with plots of surface reports (yellow), ASCAT winds (violet) and surface analyses (cyan) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) revealed a cloud arc which marked the leading edge of a Tehuano wind event — air behind a cold front plunged southward across the Gulf of Mexico during the previous day, crossed the mountains of Mexico through Chivela Pass (topography) , and emerged over the Pacific Ocean on 27 February 2020. Within the western portion of the gap wind flow, ASCAT winds speeds were as high as 32 knots at 1540 UTC — but closer to the coast the Ocean Prediction Center was initially forecasting an area of Storm Force winds (downgraded to Gale Force winds later in the day).

On a GOES-16 Visible image with plots of available NOAA-20 NUCAPS profiles (below), the location of one profile immediately offshore (Point 1) and another just ahead of the Tehauno cloud arc (Point 2) are highlighted.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) image, with plots of available NOAA-20 NUCAPS profiles [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) image, with plots of available NOAA-20 NUCAPS profiles [click to enlarge]

A toggle between the NUCAPS profile immediately offshore (Point 1, at 15.39 N latitude 94.55 W longitude) and the profile just ahead of the Tehauno cloud arc (Point 2, at 7.29 N latitude 93.95 W longitude) is show below. Note that Total Precipitable Water values were 1.78 inches ahead of the cloud arc, compared to 1.16 inches immediately off the coast of Mexico where the dry gap winds were entering the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

NOAA-20 NUCAPS Temperature (red) and dewpoint (green) profiles for Point 1 and Point 2 [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 NUCAPS Temperature (red) and dewpoint (green) profiles for Point 1 and Point 2 [click to enlarge]

In a comparison of Visible images from GOES-17 (GOES-West) and GOES-16 (GOES-East), haziness in the Gulf of Tehuantepec (best seen with GOES-16, due to a larger forward scattering angle) highlighted blowing dust that was being carried offshore by the strong gap winds.

“Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images from GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images created using Geo2Grid (below) provided a clearer view of the blowing dust plumes in the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

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

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

VIIRS True Color RGB images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 as viewed using RealEarth are shown below.

VIIRS True Color RGB images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color RGB images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 [click to enlarge]