GOES-18 captured intense wildfires and widespread severe thunderstorms across the central US on 11 May 2022. GOES-18 mesoscale sector 2 was positioned over the southern high plains, encompassing large wildfires in New Mexico, and thunderstorm development in west Texas. A GOES-18 VIS/SWIR combo animations displays the large wildfire hot spots and associated smoke plumes, along with connective initiation along the west Texas dryline.
In fact, GOES-16 and GOES-17 also had mesoscale sectors positioned over that location, allowing for a comparison between the three. GOES-18 imagery appears very similar to that from GOES-16 and GOES-17, as it should, aside from parallax differences due to the varied viewing angles between the three satellites.
Focusing east on the thunderstorms along the dryline, 1-min 500-m visible imagery provides excellent detail into convective initiation and storm top features.
Combining the VIs (Ch02) channel with NIR (Ch05) and IR (Ch13) channels, we get the popular Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB from GOES-18. The multispectral product provides information about storm top glaciation and cooling, indicators of convective initiation, that are not apparent in a single channel alone.
Focusing further north in Kansas, the details of a rapidly development thunderstorm are revealed in a rocking animation of GOES-18 1-min VIS.
Severe thunderstorms also developed across the upper midwest, where another GOES-18 mesoscale sector was positioned. This time, we observe storm top characteristics, such as overshooting tops and above anvil cirrus plumes, along with additional convective development and decay, using the GOES-18 VIS-IR sandwich combo imagery.
GOES-18 CONUS sector (5-min) IR imagery shows the longer-period evolution of the severe convection across the upper midwest from the 11th through the morning of the 12th.
Zooming way out, we get a full disk view of GOES-18 UL WV imagery from last night through this morning.
GOES-18 images and animations in this blog post are considered preliminary and non-operational.
On 11 May 2020, NESDIS released an “Earth From Orbit” GOES-18 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) first light video and associated article, which can be found here. The images and animations included in the video are some of the first captured by the GOES-18 ABI, including imagery from 5-8 May 2022. This blog post includes several of the animations from the video such that they can be viewed individually and with context. Included are an array of 10-min full disk, 5-min CONUS, and 1-min Mesoscale sector imagery. Additional animations and images from the first light video can be found in this blog post from CIMSS. Be sure to view the 1080p version of the videos!
First, a full disk Geocolor imagery from the day on the 5 May 2022, capturing the full hemisphere from the satellite currently at the 89.5W degree longitude position. The satellite is scheduled to begin drifting west toward the 136.8W position, near GOES-West, on May 16, arriving on June 6. A full schedule of the GOES-West transition can be found here.
Most of the first light imagery included in the video is from May 5, when a variety of active weather occurred across the US. GOES-18 provided incredible images of severe thunderstorms developing from Texas east into the southern MS valley area. First, GOES-18 upper-level water vapor imagery reveals the upper level features responsible for the development of widespread convection.
GOES-18 visible and IR satellite imagery captured important storm top details, such as overshooting tops and above anvil cirrus plumes, in addition to cumulus cloud evolution, convective initiation and decay, and boundary movement.
Further east, GOES-18 Geocolor imagery captured wildfire smoke over Florida, along with cumulus cloud development and eventual convective initiation.
Elsewhere on the 5th, GOES-18 Geocolor imagery revealed cu streaming across the Yucatan Peninsula, and stratus clouds sloshing along the Chile coast.
On 8 May 2022, critical fire weather conditions across the southwest resulted in ongoing wildfires across New Mexico to grow and generate large smoke plumes, which were captured in detail by GOES-18 Geocolor imagery. Also evident in the imagery is a dense region of blowing dust coming out of northwest New Mexico.
Bill Line, NESDIS/STAR. Non-Geocolor Imagery created in AWIPS.
Geocolor Imagery created by Dan Lindsey (GOES-R), Curtis Seaman (CIRA), and Dakota Smith (CIRA).
Thanks to Natalie Tourville (CIRA) for managing GOES-18 dataflow to CIRA, and to many many others for making GOES-18 ABI possible!.
A broad upper trough digging across the western US and associated 60+ knot mid-level jet yielded gusty winds and low RH across a broad portion of the southwest US on Sunday. Not only did widespread critical fire weather conditions exist, but numerous areas of blowing dust developed during the day amidst winds gusting over 50 mph at the surface. GOES Water Vapor imagery with RAP analysis fields captures the evolution of the system on Sunday (Fig 1). Downward momentum transfer across the southwest can be visualized in the WV imagery as darkening/warming (drying). Further, the tightening pressure gradient is apparent in the RAP MSLP field. Both GOES-West Mesoscale sectors were positioned across the Southwest to capture the blowing dust and wildfire threat.
A broad view from GOES-East Geocolor and IR SWD imagery during the afternoon provides a nice overview of the event (Fig 2 and 3). Blowing dust developed across soCA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, and wTx, with impressive smoke plumes also coming out of New Mexico and Arizona. Quite a few NWS Dust Storm Warnings were issued across the Southwest during the day, highlighting locations where blowing dust was restricting visibility considerably. As has been noted in past posts, these warning polygons are typically issued and shaped with some combination of, depending on availability, surface obs, webcams, other visual, satellite imagery. Satellite imagery was utilized by NWS offices in the issuance of the Dust Storm Warnings, discussion of the forecast in Area Forecast Discussions, and on Social Media, by impacted NWS offices.
Focusing on early blowing dust in New Mexico, NWS Albuquerque noted in an AFD at 2059 UTC: “A prominent dust plume is already evident on RGB satellite imagery over San Juan county where a Dust Storm Warning has been issued, and subsequent statements will likely follow.” The Dust Storm Warning, issued earlier at 1826 UTC, mentions Satellite imagery as the source of the warning. The NWS ABQ Twitter account communicated the location of the hazard using GOES Dust RGB imagery. One-minute Geocolor (Fig 4) and Dust RGB (Fig 5) imagery capture the blowing dust and smoke plumes in detail.
Further West NWS Las Vegas issued numerous Dust Storm Warnings across their CWA, with one reading: “At 417 PM PDT, dust channel moving across Death Valley Road near Dumont Dunes continues to be impressive on satellite imagery and is likely producing less than a quarter mile visibility.” By later in the afternoon, while dust could be diagnosed in GOES-West visible imagery (such as Geocolor), the lack of forward scattering from this location during the afternoon toward GOES-West makes it more difficult, compared to from GOES-East (Fig 6).
Therefore, bringing in IR-based products, such as SWD, to enhance dust appearance in the imagery is recommended (Fig 7), and/or viewing the IR-based RGBs (Fig 8).
Additional mentions of satellite imagery in AFDs for dust detection during this event included:
From NWS Phoenix, AZ at 2132 UTC: “Meanwhile, further west across the Imperial Valley blowing dust has already been detected on visible satellite imagery and local web cams, and this threat will continue into this evening.”
From NWS Reno, NV at 2133 UTC: “For now, we will keep an eye on gusts of 60-70 mph with wind prone areas possibly gusting to 80+ mph. Driving along N-S oriented roads such as US 395 and US 95 will be difficult for high-profile vehicles through the afternoon. Blowing dust is visible on satellite imagery near Lovelock, and this is likely to persist throughout Monday.”
From NWS Pueblo, CO at 2315 UTC: “Satellite imagery depicts a narrow channel of dust extending from northwest New Mexico northeastward into south-central Colorado. While much of this dust in southern Colorado appears to be concentrated aloft, surface visibilities have been lowering across the San Luis Valley, and may continue to fall this evening as additional dust is transported into the region. As a result, a Blowing Dust Advisory has been issued for the San Luis Valley, in addition to the eastern San Juan Mountains — specifically applying to southern areas of the mountains close to the Colorado-New Mexico border.”
Additional examples of NWS offices communicating the blowing dust hazard using satellite imagery from NWS Grand Junction, CO (DEBRA Dust) and El Paso, TX (Geocolor) are shown below.
An active weather pattern involving a persistent mid-level jet over US high plains resulting in several days of widespread hazardous blowing dust. As has been captured previously on this blog, NWS offices leverage satellite imagery to detect and track blowing dust, specifically for diagnosing the spatial extent of blowing dust, which is important for the issuance of advisories and warnings, and for including blowing dust in forecast grids. Further, satellite imagery is used to communicate the threat to the public via social media, as well as to partners in decision support service briefings. NWS Area Forecast Discussions provide some insight into how blowing dust appearance in satellite imagery influences forecaster thinking and decision making. This blog post captures some of these applications from 06-07 April 2022.
GOES-East water vapor imagery from 6-7 April capture a very broad upper low meandering over the upper mid-west (Fig 1). It’s western periphery over the high plains resulted in considerable northwesterly upper flow across the region, along with the embedded periodic and subtle shortwaves.
Gusty winds developed early in the day on the 6th, resulting in morning blowing dust and associated considerations by impacted NWS offices:
From NWS Cheyenne, WY at 1609 UTC: Only minor forecast change is related to blowing dust. Latest satellite observations has indicated a few isolated patches of blowing dust in the southern Nebraska Panhandle near Sidney. Nearby locations across central NE and eastern CO have reported areas of blowing dust. Updated the forecast to include patchy blowing dust through the afternoon which could locally reduce visibility at times.
From NWS Goodland, KS at 1600 UTC: Widespread dust developing across the area now. A couple distinct larger areas are showing themselves on satellite… For the moment, issued a blowing dust advisory for the locations of the bigger plumes. However, it’s quite possible that warnings will be needed soon as we’re starting to get a few reports of near zero visibility. And then 1624 UTC: Went ahead with blowing dust warning across SW Nebraska and a large portion of NW Kansas. Started getting several reports of zero visibility and decided an upgrade to a warning was necessary. Expanded the advisory to include Graham and Norton counties as dust being observed both at Norton AWOS (7 miles) and satellite.
From Dodge City, KS at 1650 UTC: Up to 50-60 mph likely for much of the CWA during peak heating of the afternoon with temperatures in the upper 50s to near 60 degrees. Blowing dust during this time will be an issue as already seen on satellite for western counties in the driest ground conditions.
From NWS Pueblo, CO at 1655 UTC: Blowing Dust Satellite products are showing blowing dust occurring over the far eastern plains, so a blowing dust advisory has been issued until late afternoon for the far eastern counties.
From NWS Boulder, CO at 1710 UTC: The second change was to add in additional blowing dust into the far northeastern corner of the state. Webcams and surface observations have indicated some areas of reduced visibility due to blowing dust. CIRA’s DEBRA dust product also shows blowing dust has increased quite a bit over the past couple of hours. Have joined our neighbors to the east with a Blowing Dust Advisory for Sedgwick and Phillips counties where dust could impact travel.
As for DSS and social media, NWS Goodland analyzed GOES-East DEBRA Dust imagery in a morning web briefing posted to social media. NWS Dodge City highlighted problem areas in GOES-East Dust RGB imagery in early day social media posts.
NWS offices were confirmed to have used the CIRA DEBRA Dust product (available on CIRA Slider and in some NWS office AWIPS), as well as the AWIPS Dust RGB, shown in Figures 2 and 3, respectively.
One can also easily diagnose the blowing dust in the simple Split Window Difference with grayscale colormap, as regions of relative dark gray to black (Fig 4). The Split Window Difference is a key ingredient to satellite-based blowing dust detection products.
Geocolor imagery with blowing dust highlighted by the SWD is shown in Fig 5, which also overlays wildfires via the Fire/Hot Spot product. Finally, an experimental Blowing Dust RGB highlights lofted dust as dull to bright yellow (Fig 6).
On the 7th, with the same pattern in place, blowing dust developed across much of the same area, again early in the day. One-minute satellite imagery was available to forecasters to help analyze early development of blowing dust
From NWS Goodland, KS at 1513 UTC: Satellite is already indicating dust plumes developing across portions of the area. The first area is between Sterling, CO, Akron, CO, and Wray, CO with 4 mile visibility already being reported in Yuma, CO. The other area of dust is south of Burlington, CO extending southeast towards Tribune, KS. Decided it was necessary to extend the blowing dust advisory across the rest of the forecast area as a result of the dust plumes viewable on satellite as well as observations. Will be monitoring for and looking for reports of near zero visibility and that will determine if Blowing Dust Warnings are needed once again. And at 1724 UTC: Received a couple reports of near zero visibility, and along with the impressive dust plume observed on satellite imagery, was pushed over the edge to issue the blowing dust warning for eastern Colorado (Yuma, Kit Carson, and Cheyenne Counties) and extreme northwestern Kansas (Cheyenne, Sherman, Wallace, and Greeley counties). This is currently the most impressive signal we’ve seen so far.
From NWS Boulder, CO at 1520 UTC: Blowing dust will be an additional hazard through the afternoon, and current satellite imagery depicts a few dust plumes beginning to surface over Washington County. May consider Blowing Dust Advisories down the line depending on how widespread/persistent the blowing dust looks to be.
A blowing dust advisory was eventually issued for Washington County.
From NWS Hastings, NE at 1544 UTC: The Blowing Dust Advisory has been extended to include more of the forecast area today. This is due in part to expected potential strong winds and suggestions of dust showing up on satellite imagery.
From NWS Pueblo, CO at 1726 UTC: Updated to issue a Dust Advisory for the far Eastern Plains through this afternoon. Satellite imagery indicates widespread blowing dust moving into the far Eastern Plains.
On social media, NWS offices communicated the blowing dust threat with satellite imagery, including these posts from Goodland, Hastings, Pueblo, and Boulder. Various NWS personnel have commented that DEBRA Dust is a preferred product for public-sharing (blowing dust information) given it’s easy-to-understand nature.
DEBRA Dust imagery for the full day again captured the lofted dust quite well (Fig 7).
Focusing on 1-min imagery over E CO and W KS during the morning, we can analyze the period of blowing dust initiation in detail. The grayscale Split Window Difference can sometimes be difficult to interpret on such fine scales (Fig 8).
Geocolor (and other reflectance imagery) from GOES-East will not highlight lofted dust and other aerosols too well from GOES-East in the morning due to lack of forward scattering (Fig 9). Enhancing the imagery with Split Window Difference helps (Fig 10).
During this time of day from GOES-East, and especially when clouds are present, IR-based products might be best for blowing dust detection, such as with the experimental blowing dust RGB (Fig 11) or traditional Dust RGB.
Viewing the 10-min GOES-West Geocolor, we see how forward scattering helps produce the dust signal in reflectance-based imagery.
A potent jet streak overhead resulted in strong/gusty winds across the high plains on 5 April 2022. The wind combined with dry conditions, resulted in a broad area of elevated to critical fire weather conditions. Further, a shortwave trough rounding the base of a broader upper low to the north sent a cold front south through the high plains, resulting in dramatic wind shifts along it’s path. NWS Dodge City, KS summarized the situation well leveraging GOES water vapor imagery (Fig 1): “Water vapor imagery shows a strong upper level jet moving into the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies overnight with an upper low starting to close off along the border of Montana and Canada. This low will move out across the Dakotas into Minnesota today into tonight. A cold front will move south across western Kansas today…”
A large wildfire developed in the Oklahoma Panhandle early in the day within gusty westerly winds, but abruptly spread south with the passage of a cold front. An AWIPS procedure captured all aspects of this situation, and is shown in Figure 2. Using the Geocolor as the base layer, we overlay the 10.3 um channel with 10% transparency and a white/cold to black/warm grayscale colormap centered on the brightness temperature range of the pre and post frontal clear sky, and 3.9 um shortwave IR brightness temperature >45 C to capture hot spots. The first part of the animation captures the wildfire hot spot and smoke plume as the cold front approaches. Once the cold front and associated wind shift push through the fire, the hot spot quickly begins to move south, along with the low-level portion of the smoke plume. The shallow nature of the cold airmass is apparent in the smoke plume behavior, with only the low-level portion nearest the fire falling within northerly flow, while further aloft, the plume continues to drift east within the westerly flow.
The location of the wildfire fell within three consecutive VIIRS passes around the time of the frontal passage, allowing for a detailed (spatially) view of the fire and wind shift. The VIIRS Natural Fire Color RGB with a similarly semi-transparent VIIRS LWIR channel overlay is shown in Fig 3.
While surface obs provide the ideal source of quantitative information regarding wind shifts, satellite imagery (especially 1-min as in Fig 2) can be leveraged to analyze frontal movement and associated wind shift with more spatial and temporal detail. In cases of wind shifts at a wildfire, such real-time information is extremely important in the protection of life and property, both for the local public and for emergency personnel working the fire (see example from one year ago here).
For this event, NWS Amarillo, TX (AMA) leveraged GOES Imagery and products in order to illustrate the dramatic fire growth associated with the frontal passage on social media (see post below). NWS/AMA also utilized satellite imagery for their Decision Support Services (DSS) phone briefings supporting the Beaver County fire and other fires in the area. Specifically, the GOES 1-min satellite imagery allowed forecasters to track the front in detail and communicate to emergency personnel the precise timing of the impending change in wind direction at each fire. The Beaver County EM confirmed that they moved personnel based on the NWS briefings of the frontal passage timing, which they got directly from watching the 3.9 um satellite imagery. In particular, forecasters noted their use of the 1-min 3.9 um band (which captured the frontal position and hot spots well) with the Fire/Hot Spot derived product (Fire Temperature) as an overlay (See Figure 4 for grayscale version and wide view of area).
One key advantage of the Nighttime Microphysics RGB is its ability to depict low-level cloud layers at night. These are marked by elevated red and green contributions within the RGB recipe, however a case from 6 April 2022 shows that not all low-level clouds look the same. Overnight a cold front was advancing southeastward through the central United States. Behind the cold front (Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas) we see that the stratus clouds are colored green-yellow, however, the stratus clouds ahead of the cold front (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama) are light blue. The question is why?
While stratus clouds often have strong contributions from the red and green bands (indicating thick, water clouds), the relative bluecontribution from the Channel 13 Clean-IR Brightness Temperature (10.3 um) can highlight the relative temperature differences of stratus clouds. See the abbreviated RGB recipe for the Nighttime Microphysics RGB below.
To see this effect for yourself, you can compare the Nighttime Microphysics RGB to the Clean-IR Brightness Temperature imagery using the slider tool below. Note the position of the cold front (via the surface observations), where the colors of the stratus clouds change in the Nighttime Microphysics RGB, and the higher/lower Clean-IR Brightness Temperatures ahead/behind the cold front.
An early March shortwave trough brought a wide range of active weather to much of the central United States on 04-05 March 2022, including snowfall, blowing dust, low clouds and fog, wildfires, and severe thunderstorms. GOES Satellite imagery was leveraged by forecasters in operations to detect and track the varying hazards, some of which are documented below.
Water vapor imagery is analyzed by forecasters to help gain an understanding of the recent and current observed synoptic scale setup in the atmosphere. How are these features influencing our weather now, and how might they influence our weather in the future? Analyzing water vapor imagery from the evening of the 4th through the morning of the 5th, key features to note include a broad toughing over the western US while a ridge builds to the east (Fig. 1). Within the broad trough, a shortwave lifts northeast across the Four Corners, and another closed circulation dips south across N California. A mid/ul jet max is analyzed in the imagery rounding the base of the Four Corners trough, denoted by the eastward spread of drying (warming BTs).
NWS forecast discussions focus on details relevant to their local weather, and how features in WV imagery influence their forecast decision-making.
From PUB at 2226 UTC on the 4th: “Current water vapor imagery is indicating deep southwest flow aloft across the state as a strong jet core is rounding the base of an upper low spinning across the southern Great Basin. Clouds and isolated showers/virga associated with an embedded wave this morning across the plains have cleared with associated lee troughing on the plains leading to gusty south to southwest winds developing across the plains this afternoon, with a few areas hitting red flag criteria attm. Further west, satellite imagery and regional radars indicating cloud top cooling and scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms moving across eastern Utah and into western Colorado attm.”
And from OUN at 0915 UTC on the 5th: “… but we did go a little drier given upstream observations and significant drying noted on the lower layer water vapor imagery as ejecting mid-level jet spreads northeastward from southern New Mexico.”
And from Topeka at 1000 UTC on the 5th: “As of 3 AM, water vapor imagery notes a negatively-tilted upper trough axis over the Colorado Rockies and is continuing to eject northeastward across the central plains. An induced lee cyclone has continued to deepen in southeast Colorado and is beginning to move northeast across westcentral Kansas and soon towards southcentral Nebraska… The lee cyclone will continue to move northeast across northcentral Kansas and into southeast Nebraska throughout the day today bringing a variety of weather concerns….”
During the morning of the 5th, less snow had fallen across northeast CO and southeast WY than guidance had indicated leading up to the event. The culprit could be observed in satellite imagery, as CYS mentions by 1137 UTC: “Radar and satellite both show relatively little signal of any significant precipitation much further south of the WY/CO border. GOES-16 imagery in the water vapor channel shows much drier air pushing northward against the cloud shield associated with the strengthening surface low. Diffluent motion in the cloud cover can also be discerned from satellite imagery over our area. This trend, combined with recent hires guidance, has guided a slight northward shift in our targeted area of heaviest snow, resulting in reduced snow totals along I-80 from Cheyenne to Sidney, but increased totals further north, especially in the Wheatland/Chugwater area.” This activity is apparent by the end of Fig 1.
Playing the water vapor animation through Saturday evening, the eastward progression of the dry/descending air and associated southwesterly jet is observed across the AZ/NM/Mexico border and into the central/southern plains as the mid/upper low shifts ene across NE/IA .
I could go one with additional water vapor imagery applications for this case, but there are other great applications to share! Along the southern periphery of the broad trough under the associated jet, gusty westerly to southwesterly winds mixed to the surface from southern CA to W Texas during the afternoon on the 4th and again on the 5th. This led to areas of blowing dust, reducing visibility, and resulting in the issuance of warnings and advisories
From ABQ on the 4th at 2120 UTC: “Blowing dust is evident on the latest Dust RGB loops (Fig 3)and lower vsbys have been reported at a few obs sites.” This area of blowing dust in northwest NM prompted the issuance of several Dust Storm Warnings.
Looking south in the EPZ forecast area: “Looking at split window GOES satellite imagery (Fig 4)… streamers of blowing dust are moving in from the Chihuahuan dust sources, so that small amount of precip isn’t doing much for dust inhibition.” A Dust Storm Warning was also issued for one of these streamers. The SWD is the key ingredient to satellite based dust detection RGBs and algorithms. Used alone, it is a great source for dust detection. Combining it with other data sources allows for the creation of more advanced products that can further isolate dust and provide information about additional features such as clouds, wildfires, etc.
Well north during the overnight hours of the 4th – 5th, BIS leveraged satellite imagery and fog probability products to assess fog/freezing drizzle potential: “Currently, surface low pressure was situated over the central Plains states with a weak reflection of an inverted trough northward into western North Dakota. Weak surface convergence was occurring here with surface observations and satellite fog probability product (Fig 6) indicating stratus/fog over western and south central ND and this is likely where any significant freezing drizzle remains. Farther east, dewpoint depressions increase quite a bit as you get into eastern portions of central ND with MVFR rather than IFR ceilings. Think the freezing drizzle potential here is very low. Will likely take a last look before issuing the products to see where we can trim off portions of the current advisory.” Viewing the new (with RPM v22, in Local Menu Items) Nighttime Microphysics + L2 product Readout, one can sample the RGB to view the Fog Probability Product readout information in the context of the RGB image, all in a single display (Fig 6, left). Learn more about this here.
To the northeast, TOP was providing IDSS to partners by alerting them to new wildfire starts per GOES Imagery: “Several fire have already been detected via GOES satellite imagery (Fig 7) and have been reported by local officials this afternoon.” At least five hot spots can be confidently diagnosed in the Fig 7 animation within the TOP forecast area. A sixth and seventh may be present to the southeast under the cloud cover. Early alerts of new wildfire starts (or significant developments of already established wildfires) may help emergency crews locate the fire, and allow them to arrive at the scene, sooner than otherwise. Other such examples have been documented on this blog (see here and here).
Two mesoscale sectors of 1-min imagery each were requested by NWS to support forecast operations on the 5th. One meso sector was requested by NWS Tulsa for Critical Fire Weather over the Southern Plains, and the other by SPC for the midwest severe weather threat. These sectors overlapped considerably across E OK/KS/KE and W MO/IA. As a result, 30-second imagery was available over these areas. When the center point of two meso sectors is the same (30-second imagery is requested), the meso overlap imagery can be viewed as meso-1 in AWIPS. This is not the case for a partial overlap. A few simple AWIPS modifications allows one to view this 30-second partial meso overlap imagery (hopefully the subject of a future AWIPS update). The thunderstorm associated with the EF4 Winterset/Newton Tornado developed within the overlap area, and is shown in Figs 8 and 9. Severe storm indicators present in the imagery include inflow feeder clouds, persistent overshooting tops, and above anvil cirrus plumes. Rotation of the exposed updraft may also be apparent at times.
GOES-T launched successfully from Cape Canaveral, FL at 2138 UTC 01 March 2022. Given quiet weather elsewhere, 30-second mesoscale sectors from both GOES-East and GOES-West were collected imagery over the launch location, capturing fascinating details about the rocket hot spot and plume.
Starting with the GOES-East view of the launch, visible imagery captured the condensation trail (Fig 1), while SWIR imagery revealed the hot spot (Fig 2).
Combining VIS/NIR and SWIR gives us the Natural Fire Color RGB, which shows the hot spot along with the condensation trail (Fig 3).
Zooming out, an even longer vapor trail is visible in the 6.2 um water vapor imagery, along with the hot spot signature (Fig 4).
Finally, combining the VIS, SWIR, and water vapor imagery, we are able to capture all features, including the hot spot (yellow), condensation trail (dark blue), and vapor trail (lighter green/mustard compared to background; Fig 5). This “Plume RGB” is recently available in AWIPS per the TOWR-S RPM v22 update, in the Local Menu Items menu.
Similar bands/RGBs from GOES-West capture the launch from a much greater Viewing Zenith angle, providing a different perspective (Fig 6-9).
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
Previously warm temperatures across the region had caused an aging the snowpack to crust over, limiting its “blowability”. However during the day/evening of the 10th, another quick-moving shortwave brought an additional round of fresh snowfall to Red River Valley region in E ND and W MN. As discussed in a great NWS/FGF forecast discussion on the 10th:
“This is a classic arctic front blizzard set up. The main issue is that the warm temperatures ahead of the cold front will make the current snowpack nearly unblowable. With that said, water vapor imagery indicates an upper level wave (currently way upstream) that should lead to an area of very light falling snow behind the cold front, and combined with the strong winds would lead to a 3-5 hour period of blizzard conditions. Most guidance does indicate very light QPF. Typically, in these CAA regimes we tend to develop additional convective snow showers, which would prolong the blizzard type impacts. However, the development and intensity of these convective snow showers is uncertain. If the snow showers persist, blizzard conditions would last into Friday afternoon.”
As discussed in the above forecast, plummeting temperatures and strong winds behind the front indeed resulted in widespread blowing snow by the early morning hours of the 11th, lasting into the afternoon and aided by the development of HCRs, especially across the Red River Valley. GOES-East imagery was utilized by NWS/FGF forecasters during this event to narrow down the spatial extent of the Blizzard Warning, as discussed here and below. Corresponding GOES-East Imagery is shown over the region in Fig 1, along with the warning decision on the NWS WWA map (Fig 2).
“Along the glacial lake valley floor horizontal convective rolls can be seen on satellite and from KMVX radar indicating blizzard conditions with widespread white outs causing many east to west road closures in MN and portions of I29. With the help of the satellite imagery did narrow the blizzard warning and removed the tier of counties from Roseau to Mahnomen along with western Walsh and Cavalier in ND.”
Afternoon VIIRS passes provide an alternative, high resolution view of the blowing snow and related HCRs (Fig 3+4).
A full day (2/11) GOES-East animation captures the longer term evolution of the blowing snow and HCRs across the Red River Valley (Fig 5).