A Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) originating over Texas traversed the Gulf of Mexico during the evening of 07 April into the morning of the 8th. This system developed in association with a shortwave trough digging across the southern US plains and ahead of a east-moving surface cold front. GOES-16 10.3 um 5-min imagery captures the evolution of the MCS well (Fig 1). Periodic overshooting tops, above anvil cirrus plumes, and gravity waves are all apparent at storm top.
GOES-16 GLM Flash Extent Density (5-min accumulation updating every 1-min) indicated an abundance of lightning activity with the cluster of thunderstorms (Fig 2). The field highlights the most intense updrafts (greatest FED), and shows lightning flashes extending well away from the main line of storms.
The GLM Average Flash Area shows relatively small flashes associated with the main updrafts, while the flashes extending outward from the most intense cells are long (Fig 3). This makes sense, since stronger updrafts are typically associated with smaller flashes.
Looking at the GOES-16 derived TPW field, the cold front pushing east behind the MCS is easily discernible. Behind the front, TPW values are around 0.5″, while values ahead of the front in the vicinity of the MCS are around 1.5″.
Finally, 1-min imagery was available over the coastal areas to aid forecasters in tracking thunderstorms associated with the system. 1-min visible imagery at sunset reveals active thunderstorms, the development of new thunderstorms through the cirrus shield, and a number of gravity waves emanating away from the updrafts.
Bill Line, NWS
Thank you, Bill, for the post and the fascinating animations of this MCS. I may add a comment to the visualisation you used.
After many years of experience in configuration and use of our met visualisation system (NinJo) we eventually try to avoid overlaying more than one gridded fields (typically NWP, radar or satellite images) with color shadings (ambiguousness, readability).
Instead of using the color table for brightness temperature (BT) for the IR imagery together with GLM data rather reduce the BT to traditional black-grey-white shadings. Thereby you keep at least part of the information of the BT at the periphery of the MCS while enhancing the overall readability of the animation, where the focus is rather on the lightning activity. The strength of coloured BT in enhancing the cell cores with their overshooting updrafts is anyway lost “below” the GLM shadings when using color shadings for both images. Keep it as simple as possible to ease and accelerate interpretation!
Hi Marco… Thank you for the feedback, we certainly appreciate it. I agree, having the two “Colored” fields does make interpretation unnecessarily difficult, and changing one (the IR BT in this case) to grey scale would make it easier.