Early-season snowfall across the northern Plains

October 16th, 2020 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Day Cloud Phase Distinction Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (above) showed multiple long, narrow northwest-to-southeast oriented swaths of snow cover extending across much of North Dakota into western Minnesota early in the day on 16 October 2020. The snow swaths — which appeared as brighter shades of green in the RGB images — slowly melted during the late morning and early afternoon hours.

A toggle between NOAA-20 VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0843 UTC (below) displayed a northwest-to-southeast cloud band that extended from Lake Sakakawea (which exhibited SST values in the low/mid 50s F) to the Bismarck (KBIS) / Mandan area. Note that Mandan (located just west of KBIS) was reporting “precipitation of unknown type” with an air temperature of 32ºF — indicating that this feature was a lake effect cloud band which was producing light precipitation (predominantly snow).

NOAA-20 Sea Surface Temperature product and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0843 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0843 UTC [click to enlarge]


=====17 October 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 a new, broader swath of snow cover from southern Saskatchewan and northeastern Montana into North Dakota that was produced by a clipper-type disturbance (surface analyses). For this event, snowfall amounts were as high as 3.5 inches in northeastern Montana and 2.1 inches in North Dakota (NOHRSC) — so the rate of snow melt was slower than what was seen on the previous day.