While the majority of us await some semblance of a winter in the U.S., one area that is not accustomed to seeing blizzard conditions (Tokyo, Japan) had a rather rude awakening! Tokyo endured wind gusts to hurricane force and ~3″ of snow (unusual by Tokyo standards) from 1/14/13-1/15/13. The storm underwent extreme rapid intensification with the central pressure dropping 49 mb in 24 hours! That equates to 2.55 bergerons (at 34.5N) in meteorology tech lingo, which may be a record for the North Pacific and is the definition of extreme deepening or bombogenesis!
I created an animation using the 1-hour MTSAT infrared imagery and 1-hour accumulated lightning provided by the Vaisala GLD-360 feed available at the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) to emphasize the incredible deepening of the storm. There are indications that Tokyo may have seen some thundersnow as indicated by the cluster of lightning strikes near the area early in the animation. Note the sporadic nature of the lightning activity with a significant burst appearing in the eastern quadrant early on 1/15 as the storm entered the OPC high seas zone (blue outline).
The ASCAT (scatterometer) high resolution wind data above shows many wind barbs over 63 kts (73 mph) in the southwest and southeast quadrants of the storm between 09 UTC and 11 UTC on 01/15/13. Notice how the passes missed the core of the storm, which happen occasionally.
The OSCAT (scatterometer) high resolution passes are wider and this particular image shows the entire storm in one swath. There is a degradation in the wind quality, but there are many wind barbs greater than 47 knots (54 mph) and some of the white wind barbs suggest winds over hurricane force. The GFS indicated 85 knot (100 mph) winds and the ECMWF had 75 knot (85 mph) winds with max gusts to 107 knots or 122 mph! James Kells (OPC forecaster) mentioned in an email to me that he doesn’t ever recall seeing the ECMWF forecast anything over 65 knots. He was more impressed with the wave models having never seen anything forecasted above 50 feet. Seas were forecast by the ECMWF and GFS to exceed 60 feet although we will have to wait for a post-analysis on how well this verified.
The OPC surface analysis overlaid on the enhanced infrared image from MTSAT shows the storm at it’s maximum intensity with a surface pressure at 932 mb. From the standpoint of model forecasts, I had received emails from a few Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) and OPC forecasters about how the GFS and ECMWF were forecasting a very significant storm a few days out. The GFS forecasted a pressure of 936 mb and the ECMWF forecasted 938 mb, so the forecasts were incredibly good for this extreme event!
Now, the actual point of this post (I know, finally!) is to demonstrate the operational use of the AIRS Total Column Ozone retrieval product that is produced by NASA SPoRT. The image above shows the ozone retrieval around 15 UTC on 01/15/13 as the storm was continuing the occlusion process and subsequent slow weakening. Although the color bar on the left is incorrect, the red and pink colors suggest ozone readings that exceed 450 or even 500 Dobson units which indicates a highly anomalous stratospheric intrusion. There is no RGB Air Mass product for the Pacific other than what MODIS or VIIRS can provide, therefore the AIRS Total Ozone product can serve as a proxy for the red-coloring seen in the Air Mass imagery and could give forecasters an indication of the strength of a stratospheric intrusion and therefore how strong a storm may get.
Thanks for reading!