An active synoptic pattern brought a wide variety of weather to portions of the central US during the day on 23 Dec 2020. From GOES-East water vapor imagery, one can diagnose a series of guilty shortwave troughs: one lifting northeast across the midwest, and the other on its backside digging southeast into the southern high plains (Fig 1).
The western shortwave trough sent a cold front south down the central/southern high plains during the morning, with gusty northerly winds developing in its wake. Given the dry antecedent conditions, widespread blowing dust developed, first across southeast Colorado, and spreading south into western Kansas and the TX/OK Panhandles.
GOES-East 1-min imagery was available over the region, capturing the blowing dust evolution through the day. During the morning, the lofted dust was clearly evident in 1-min animations of both the Geocolor and DEBRA-Dust products (Fig 2 and 3).
A 2-min VIS feature-following zoom animation provides a unique perspective of dust plume relative evolution, including periodic cumulus cloud development atop the blowing dust (Fig 4).
Combining the Geocolor and DEBRA-Dust products for the duration of the daytime allows for the lofted dust to be highlighted within a more natural looking animation (Fig 5).
In the absence of DEBRA-Dust in AWIPS, a similar product can be made by combining geocolor (or single-band VIS) with the SWD as an overlay and applying a varying transparency color table around the values for lofted dust (Fig 5b).
Finally, the Dust-Fire RGB captured the dust (relatively bright green) well, along with a few wildfire hot spots (red) in its path (Fig 6). Clouds (and very cold land) appear as various shades of blue.
NWS Amarillo issued a great tweet highlighting the blowing dust in GOES-East Geocolor imagery:
The blowing dust was captured in slightly higher detail in SNPP and NOAA-20 VIIRS geocolor imagery:
To the northeast, on the backside of the eastern shortwave, gusty north winds forced areas of blowing snow. The blowing snow can be diagnosed in an RGB similar to the Day-Snow Fog RGB, but replacing the 0.86 um band with the higher resolution 0.64 um band for the red component, and making other minor adjustments. This RGB is introduced for regions of blowing snow in South Dakota (Fig 7) and ND/MN/Canada (Fig 8). Kudos to Carl Jones (NWS Grand Forks, ND) for pointing out these areas of blowing snow.
Bill Line, NESDIS and CIRA