An intense upper trough digging into the southwest US resulted in widespread strong winds and regions of blowing dust during the day on 15 Feb 2022. Per NWS Las Vegas, NV: “This mornings water vapor imagery (Fig 1) depicts a compact closed low dropping southward through central California with a swift southwesterly flow extending out ahead of it. Winds have been picking up through the night but will continue to increase through the remainder of the morning hours aided by a strengthening pressure gradient and daytime mixing.”
In association with the south-moving cold front and possibly convectively enhanced, a wall of dense blowing dust, or haboob, surged south through Death Valley in CA near the NV border. See photo here. Again from NWS VEF: “Visible satellite imagery also depicted a well developed wall of dust progressing southward across Death Valley, possibly enhanced by some shower activity enhancing post frontal surface winds. Given the satellite presentation and susceptibility to dust storms in Death Valley, issued a Dust Storm Warning through 245 pm for the Furnace Creek and Death Valley junction region.”
NWS VEF leverages GOES visible, Geocolor, and Dust RGB imagery in their decision making during such blowing dust events. In events such as this one, satellite imagery is the primary method for deciding to issue a Dust Storm Warning. Corresponding GOES-West Geocolor imagery and referenced Dust Storm Warning polygon is shown in Fig 2. The wall of dust is obvious in the imagery surging south along the CA/NV border. Also notable in the imagery is the lack of data between 1900 and 2010 UTC. This was a planned GOES-17 outage. Note, GOES Geocolor imagery will be available to all NWS offices in the coming months.
GOES-16 also provides useful imagery over the region, and captured the haboob well (Fig 3). The SWD (Fig 4a) signal was quite strong, resulting in the obvious signature in Dust RGB imagery as well (Fig 4b).
VIIRS Day Land Cloud RGB imagery provided a 375 m resolution view of the haboob as well, including 3 images during a ~100 minute period (Fig 5).
Considerable blowing dust developed elsewhere across the southwest US within the increasing southwesterly winds, resulting in multiple Dust Storm Warnings and Blowing Dust Advisories. An SWD-IR-L2 product combo, newly available with the recent AWIPS TOWR-S update, captures the many areas of lofted dust (dark gray) well, while also providing cloud brightness temperature information (Fig 6). Note, it is recommended to adjust the SWD colortable range to ~ -2 to 8 when using the SWD with B-W colortable to detect blowing dust.
One can access hidden L2 product information from this new menu item by sampling the scene, in this case revealing a confirmation of dust (Aerosol Dust product), as well as the considerably dry airmass (TPW) in NW NM (Fig 7). The Dust RGB + L2 Readout option includes similar information.
NWS El Paso, TX notes their use of satellite imagery in tracking the lofted dust during this event (Fig 8): “Winds are increasing, especially across the Bootheel where a wind advisory remains in effect this afternoon and evening. Satellite imagery also shows several dust plumes moving NE out of Mexico with the thickest dust noted in Luna County. Deming is reporting 2 to 4 mile vis, while the Border Patrol station at Columbus reported 100 feet. A blowing dust advisory is in effect to account for this plume as well as some other plumes over Hidalgo County.”
NWS Phoenix, AZ was also busy tracking areas of blowing dust in satellite imagery throughout the day (Fig 9): “So far today, wind gusts upwards of 45-55 mph have been recorded across portions of southeast California with slightly stronger gusts recorded in southwest Imperial County. As a result, areas of blowing dust have been generated. The most notable dust plumes showing up on visible satellite imagery this afternoon have been originating near Anza Borrego and spreading eastward across Imperial County. Additional dust plumes have been noted across eastern Riverside County near Blythe. Visibility in these areas have dropped down to around a mile or even lower at times. Thus, A Blowing Dust Advisory is in effect for much of southeast California through this evening.
Bill Line, NESDIS and CIRA, Stanley Czyzyk, NWS/VEF