Bore-like feature over Lower Michigan

February 13th, 2020 |

GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) “red” visible imagery (0.64 µm), 1435 – 1840 UTC on 13 February 2020 (Click to enlarge)

TJ Turnage, the Science and Operations Officer (SOO) at the National Weather Service forecast office in Grand Rapids, noted today the presence of smooth, curving bands over Lake Michigan. The animation above shows their development — and the smooth appearance of the bands (just offshore of Ottawa Co, and curving into Allegan Co) is in marked contrast to the north-south oriented lake-effect bands over central Lake Michigan. This falls into the “What the Heck is this?” Blog Category.

An hourly animation that includes surface conditions sheds little light. The bore-like feature seems to arise out of an interaction of the atmospheric flow with Big and Little Sable Points, and surface winds at Muskegon (just north of Ottawa Co) and Holland (in Allegan Co) change as the feature moves over — but no snow is observed at those stations during the bore passage.

GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) “red” visible imagery (0.64 µm) and surface METARS hourly from 1300 – 2100 UTC on 13 February 2020 (Click to enlarge)

Radar imagery (from the College of Dupage) also shows little return associated with the bore-like features.  (Click to see images from 1720 and 1800 UTC, when the bands were on shore).

NEXRAD Composite Radar Imagery (Composite Reflectivity) centered on MI, 1655-1820 UTC on 13 february 2020 (Click to enlarge)

 

Water vapor imagery, below, suggests that the stable layer that is trapping the energy and causing the bore-like feature originated near Big and Little Sable Points, around 1600 UTC.  The enhancement also suggests the bore-like feature is higher than the tops of lake-effect bands in the middle of Lake Michigan.  (Click here for a rocking animation of the water vapor imagery;  the rocking allows for better tracking of the impulse back to the source near the Sables, its earliest hint is at 1610 UTC — vs. about 1635 UTC in visible imagery).

GOES-16 ABI Band 10 (7.34 µm, low-level water vapor) infrared imagery, 1520 to 2015 UTC, 13 February 2020 (Click to play animated gif)

GOES-16 ABI Band 2 (0.64 µm) visible imagery, 1520 to 2015 UTC, 13 February 2020 (Click to play animated gif)

Bore-like features require stable layers.  The Gaylord Michigan sounding at 1200 UTC — upstream from the region out of which the bore emerged — shows several inversion layers.  The weighting function for the sounding (from this site) shows peak contributions for 7.34 µm (indeed, from all water vapor channels) from above 500 mb.  The coldest brightness temperature in the bands is -28 º C;  based on the Gaylord sounding, that’s a pressure level near 560 mb.  These Bore-like features are not Lake-Effect snow bands, despite having the correct aspect ratio — their width and length both suggest Lake-effect bands, but their height suggests otherwise.

NOAA-20 overflew this region shortly after 1700 UTC, and a NUCAPS sounding is close to the Michigan shoreline, just east of Holland, where the cloud band is coming onshore. The sounding from NUCAPS at that point/time is below.  The very smooth sounding does bear a passing resemblance to the Gaylord Sounding, but the smoothness of the NUCAPS profile — sampling a volume of air that in this case is about as wide as a county, makes identification of sharp inversions difficult.

NOAA-20 NUCAPS Profile points over Lake Michigan and lower Michigan, ca. 1730 UTC on 13 February 2020 (Click to enlarge)

NUCAPS Profile of temperature and moisture, 17 UTC on 13 February 2020 (Click to enlarge)

Gravity waves over the Gulf of Mexico and Florida

January 22nd, 2020 |

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) showed a packet of gravity waves over the eastern Gulf of Mexico and southern Florida on 22 January 2020. Later time in the time period, there were isolated pilot reports of moderate turbulence in the vicinity of the waves (though it’s uncertain whether the gravity waves were directly responsible).

What caused these gravity waves to form and slowly propagate southeastward is also uncertain — earning this example its place in the “What the heck is this?” blog category. The SPC Mesoscale Analysis at 07 UTC (below) did show weak convergence of 300 hPa ageostrophic winds (dark blue oval) in the entrance region of a secondary jet streak “J” over the Gulf of Mexico — this convergence could have played a role in the gravity wave development.

SPC Mesoscale Analysis valid at 07 UTC, showing 300 hPa height, isotachs and ageostrophic winds [click to enlarge]

SPC Mesoscale Analysis valid at 07 UTC, showing 300 hPa height, isotachs and ageostrophic winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Derived Motion Winds (calculated using 6.9 µm imagery) in the vicinity of the gravity waves (below) had velocities in the 50-60 knot range at pressure levels of 370-380 hPa (0916 UTC).

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.2 um) Derived Motion Winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) Derived Motion Winds [click to enlarge]

Also of note was the fact that the surface of southern Florida was sensed by GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor imagery (below).

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

With an unseasonably cold, dry air mass moving southward over the peninsula, the 7.3 µm water vapor weighting functions were shifted to lower altitudes at Miami and Key West (below) — this allowed the thermal contrast between relatively cool land surfaces and the surrounding warmer water to be seen in the 7.3 µm imagery.

GOES-16 weighting functions for the 7.3 µm (violet), 6.9 µm (blue) and 6.2 µm (green) Water Vapor spectral bands, calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Miami, Florida [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 weighting functions for the 7.3 µm (violet), 6.9 µm (blue) and 6.2 µm (green) Water Vapor spectral bands, calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Miami, Florida [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 weighting functions for the 7.3 µm (violet), 6.9 µm (blue) and 6.2 µm (green) Water Vapor spectral bands [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 weighting functions for the 7.3 µm (violet), 6.9 µm (blue) and 6.2 µm (green) Water Vapor spectral bands, calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Key West, Florida [click to enlarge]

In fact, at Key West the Total Precipitable Water value of 0.3 inch calculated from 12 UTC rawinsonde data (below) was a new record for the date/time (the previous record minimum value was 0.36 inch).

Climatology of Total Precipitable Water for the Key West, Florida rawinsonde site [click to enlarge]

Climatology of Total Precipitable Water for the Key West, Florida rawinsonde site [click to enlarge]

Stationary linear boundary over the Pacific Ocean

May 2nd, 2019 |

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

GOES-17 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm), Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

In a comparison of GOES-17 (GOES-West) Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm), Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above), the Water Vapor imagery revealed an interesting stationary linear boundary — oriented NNW to SSE, near 152-154ºW longitude — over the North Pacific Ocean on 02 May 2019. In addition, note the other linear boundary that propagated from E to W, moving right through the aforementioned stationary boundary (best seen in the 6.19 um Upper-level Water Vapor imagery). There was no evidence of either of these linear features in the corresponding GOES-17 Infrared imagery, or in Visible imagery (not shown). A perfect candidate for the “What the heck is this?” blog category.

One possible explanation for the curious stationary feature was that it resulted from a convergence of flow around the cutoff low to the east and a digging trough approaching from the west. GOES-15 Infrared cloud-tracked Derived Motion Winds from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below) did show evidence of some converging flow in that region. Derived Motion Winds from GOES-17 were still in the Beta stage, and were not available for display in AWIPS.

GOES-15 Infrared cloud-tracked Derived Motion Winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Infrared cloud-tracked Derived Motion Winds [click to enlarge]

Train of standing waves south of Hawai’i

November 25th, 2018 |
GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

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

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) revealed an interesting train of standing waves about 100-150 miles south of the Big Island of Hawai’i on 25 November 2018. With the presence of moisture aloft, the 3 water vapor weighting functions — calculated using the 00 UTC Hilo sounding — were shifted to high enough altitudes to eliminate the sensing of radiation from features in the lower troposphere. There were no pilot reports of turbulence in the vicinity of these standing waves — but they were located outside of the primary commercial air traffic corridors to/from the islands.

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below) showed that these wave clouds were radiometrically transparent to longwave thermal energy being emitted from/near the surface — note that marine boundary layer stratocumulus clouds could be seen drifting westward within the easterly trade wind flow. As a result, the satellite-sensed 10.3 µm infrared brightness temperatures of the standing wave clouds were significantly warmer than that of the air at higher altitudes where they existed. These standing wave cloud features were, however, very apparent in 1.37 µm Cirrus imagery, along with what appeared to be other thin filaments of cirrus cascading southward overhead. The southward motion of the features seen on Cirrus imagery suggests that they existed at pressure levels of 370 hPa (26,900 feet / 8.2 km) or higher — altitudes where northerly winds were found on the Hilo sounding.

GOES-17 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared "Cirrus" (1.37 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A comparison of all 16 ABI spectral bands is shown below. Note that in the longwave infrared bands along the bottom 4 panels, the brightness temperatures are progressively colder (darker shades of green) on the 11.2 µm, 12.3 µm and 13.3 µm images — each of these bands are increasingly affected by water vapor absorption aloft, therefore more effectively sensing the thin layer of higher-altitude standing wave clouds. AWIPS cursor sampling showed the differences in detected brightness temperature at 3 different points along the feature: here, here and here. The increasing sensitivity to radiation emitted from higher altitudes can also be seen in a comparison of weighting functions for ABI bands 13, 14, 15 and 16.

GOES-17 images of all 16 ABI bands [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 images of all 16 ABI spectral bands [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm), Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and Infrared CO2 (13.3 µm) images (below) showed that the lower spatial resolution of the legacy GOES Imager infrared bands (4 km at satellite sub-point) was not able to resolve the individual waves as well as the 2-km GOES-17 ABI images . Also, as was seen with the GOES-17 imagery, the 13.3 µm CO2 brightness temperatures of the standing wave clouds were significantly colder (shades of blue) compared to those of the conventional 10.7 µm Infrared Window. The corresponding GOES-15 Visible imagery (0.63 µm) is also available: animated GIF | MP4.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, keft), Infrared Window (10.7 µm, center) and Infraered CO2 (13.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, keft), Infrared Window (10.7 µm, center) and Infraered CO2 (13.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

In comparisons of VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 visualized using RealEarth (below), note the highly-transparent nature of the standing wave clouds on the RGB images; only the earliest 2256 UTC VIIRS 11.45 µm image displayed brightness temperatures of -20ºC and colder (cyan to blue enhancement).

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2256 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2256 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2336 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2336 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0028 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0028 UTC [click to enlarge]

Terra (at 2043 UTC) and Aqua (at 2347 UTC) MODIS True Color RGB images along with retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure from the WorldView site (below) indicated that the standing wave feature was composed of ice crystal clouds exhibiting temperature values of -53ºC and colder (dark purple enhancement) located at heights of 12 km or higher (and at pressure levels at or above 250 hPa). These temperature/height/pressure values roughly corresponded to the upper portion of a layer of increasing relative humidity between 200-274 hPa on the Hilo sounding.

Terra MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2043 UTC [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2043 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2347 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2347 UTC [click to enlarge]

However, an experimental CLAVR-x version of GOES-17 Cloud Type, Cloud Top Temperature and Cloud Top Height products (below; courtesy of Steve Wanzong, CIMSS) indicated Cirrus clouds having temperature values in the 210-200 K (-63 to -73ºC) range at heights within the 13-16 km range. These colder/higher values raise the question of whether the wave clouds might have formed and been ducted within the shallow temperature inversion near 15 km on the Hilo sounding.

GOES-17 Cloud Type product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Type product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Temperature product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Temperature product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 False Color RGB images (below) vividly portrayed the transparent nature of the high-altitude standing wave cloud feature, which allowed westward-moving stratocumulus clouds within the marine boundary layer to plainly be seen. The RGB components are 1.38 µm / 0.64 µm /  1.61 µm.

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

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

A coherent explanation of this feature and what caused it to form remains elusive, earning it a distinguished place in the what the heck is this? blog category. Perhaps one clue existed in the winds aloft, as depicted by the NAM at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa (below), which showed northerly/northeasterly flow that was decelerating as it entered a trough axis (the region within the red box). Could this flow deceleration have induced a “reverse flow” which then caused enough weak lift to form the thin standing wave clouds within the aforementioned semi-moist 200-274 hPa layer seen on the Hilo sounding? No other obvious forcing mechanisms were in the immediate area — a slowly-approaching surface cold front was too far north of Hawai’i to have played a role.

NAM Winds at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa [click to enlarge]

NAM Winds at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa [click to enlarge]