During the early morning hours of 14 March 2022, a plume of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico was advected northward prior to a severe weather setup later that day. Along with surface observations and RAP surface analysis data, imagery from the GOES-16 Nighttime Microphysics RGB provided conformation of this moisture advection with stratus clouds developing across eastern Texas and southern Oklahoma (green-yellow) from Figure 1. Strong contributions in the red and green bands signify thick clouds that mostly contain water, helping to determine that these are low level stratus clouds driven by the synoptic scale advection of low level moisture across the region.
The NWS Storm Prediction Center issued a Slight Risk for northeast Texas and the Ark-La-Tex region, with all hazards (tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds) possible (see slideshow below). Use of the Nighttime Microphysics RGB in this scenario may provide conformation of the moisture advection, along with its current spatial extent in regions where few surface observations exist. Monitoring the extent of these stratus clouds also provides a ‘first look’ at which areas will receive more or less solar heating during the morning, which may impact the initiation time, coverage, and maximum strength of convection later in the day.
Kevin Thiel, OU CIWRO and NWS SPC