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RAMMB: GOES-R Proving Ground Blog

This has not been a particularly snowy winter in New England and the Northeast, with a number of rain events during the season.  So naturally, now that “winter” is officially over a snowstorm hit much of the area on Monday 23 March.  Here are the snow totals as of Tuesday morning (24 March):

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by Ed Szoke and Dan Bikos

Total lightning (in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning) is available to forecasters from the Global Lightning Mapper (GLM) onboard GOES-16 and GOES-17.  Unlike cloud-to-ground lightning, the amount of in-cloud lightning is related to updraft strength, and various studies have seeked to relate in-cloud lightning to the potential for severe storms including tornadoes.  The relationship to supercell… Read more »

By Ed Szoke and Dan Bikos

A rapidly intensifying cyclone developed in southeast Colorado late on April 10 as a strong upper-level wave moved out of the Rockies, not quite the “bomb cyclone” of 13 March 2019 but a very intense storm that brought blizzard conditions and widespread snow from the Central Plains to the Upper Midwest. On the southern… Read more »

An Arctic outbreak occurred in late January 2019 over the Great Lakes which caused not only lake-effect snowfall but a rapid increase in ice coverage across the lakes, particularly over shallower lakes.

First, we’ll look at GOES-16 imagery prior to the Arctic outbreak. GOES-16 GeoColor imagery on January 25 (click to open a larger window):

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By Ed Szoke and Dan Bikos

On 21 November 2018, here is the GOES-16 visible (0.64 micron) imagery:

Visible loop: click here or on the image for the animation

Do you see any fog in this imagery?

How about in this product, do you see any fog?

click… Read more »

Dry…but not THAT dry!

The GOES-16 water vapor imagery for all 3 channels showed a narrow band of very warm brightness temperatures (implying sinking air and a dry atmosphere) on Friday morning (1502 UTC) 9 Feb 2018.

This narrow zone of sinking air is on the southern (anticyclonic) side of a very strong upper level jet draped across the CONUS, seen in the 1200… Read more »

The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing.  Users bear all responsibility for inspecting the data prior to use and for the manner in which the data are utilized.

Fires have been burning for some time in Montana as well as western Canada, as seen in the latest large fire incident map for… Read more »

The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing.  Users bear all responsibility for inspecting the data prior to use and for the manner in which the data are utilized.

During the afternoon of 4 April 2017, strong westerly winds and low relative humidity was observed in west Texas, southern New Mexico and northern… Read more »

The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing.  Users bear all responsibility for inspecting the data prior to use and for the manner in which the data are utilized.

By Ed Szoke and Dan Bikos

On 22 March 2017 the GOES-16 visible band at 0.64 micron over Maine and southeast Canada shows many… Read more »

The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing.  Users bear all responsibility for inspecting the data prior to use and for the manner in which the data are utilized.

By Ed Szoke and Dan Bikos

Among the 16 channels on GOES-16 are 3 water vapor channels at 2 km resolution (at NADIR), compared… Read more »

While water vapor imagery is no doubt very useful for forecasting, it can at times be tricky to interpret.  This blog discusses a particularly challenging case over Southern California on 21 September 2016, when deep tropical moisture produced a rain event for San Diego.  Even though the environment was very moist, indeed the precipitable water (PW) was a record for the… Read more »

On 5 December 2016, a significant storm was approaching the mountains of Colorado with various NWS winter weather watches/warnings posted for 6 December.  This snow event on 5 December occurred ahead of the storm in what looked like drying conditions behind a fast moving shortwave.  The GOES satellite imagery seemed to support the idea of drying on 5 December in all… Read more »


A winter storm that passed through Colorado on 1-2 February 2016 resulted in significant snowfall over northern / northeast Colorado:


One of the key aspects of this extra-tropical cyclone was the development of a warm conveyor belt (Harrold 1973).  The 4-km NSSL WRF-ARW synthetic water vapor imagery… Read more »

At 0600 UTC 13 December 2015, the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center analyzed a 924 mb surface low in the north Pacific in the vicinity of the western Aleutian islands:


The analyzed minimum central pressure of 924 mb ties the record for lowest pressure in the north Pacific during… Read more »

Himawari-8 True Color / Geocolor product

CIRA now provides Himawari-8 daytime true color imagery and nighttime geocolor imagery:

The example above begins at 0230 UTC 12 November 2015 with most of the scene in daylight, therefore true color imagery is shown.  The CIRA Hybrid Atmospherically Corrected (HAC) method is applied to produce this “true color” imagery.

The Hybrid Atmospherically Corrected (HAC)… Read more »

GOES-14 will be in Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSOR) mode between 18 May – 12 June, 2015.  This special mode allows for 1-minute temporal imagery for GOES, similar to what will be available when GOES-R becomes available in 2016.

We will discuss the 1-minute imagery over Texas on 19 May, 2015.

First, we will look at the early… Read more »

By Steve Miller (CIRA)

This blog entry is in Powerpoint show format, click on the link below to view the Powerpoint show:

Powerpoint show file

A strong cold front pushed southward across the Plains during the day on November 10, 2014.  The temperature gradient across the front was quite dramatic, as seen by the surface observations at 23:00 UTC:


Visible imagery from GOES-East during the afternoon hours centered over Colorado clearly showed the… Read more »

One of the exciting new products that will be available on GOES-R is the split window difference (SWD) which is simply the difference between the 10.35 micron and 12.3 micrometer channels.  This channel difference has been shown to provide information about atmospheric column water vapor.  Higher SWD values (larger positive difference) can correspond to deepener low-level moisture in a cloud-free… Read more »

GOES-14 was operating on super rapid scan operations schedule for May 11, 2014, meaning that images were being taken every 1 minute.  This high temporal resolution data will be routinely available for severe weather events with GOES-R, therefore it is beneficial to learn how to maximize the value added by this dataset.  SPC issued a moderate risk for portions of… Read more »

A recent post took a look at the CIRA dust products for the widespread blowing dust event across the Southern Plains behind a strong cold front on 27 April.  The associated upper-level trough moved into the middle of the nation and became a giant closed low that stalled for days.  Figure 1 shows the position of the closed 500 mb… Read more »

The extensive outbreak of severe weather on Sunday 27 April (see SPC plot of reports below in Figure 1) made headlines with many destructive tornadoes.  A strong cold front associated with an intense low lifting out of the Rockies led to the large outbreak (Figure 2 shows the low at 1200 UTC Monday morning 28 April).  Meanwhile very strong winds… Read more »

In a recent post we showed a dust storm that moved through southeast Colorado and into the Texas Panhandle on 11 March with a strong cold front.  Another cold front, even a bit stronger than the one last week, pushed southward through the same area almost exactly one week later as a deepening surface low emerged from the Rockies into… Read more »

A strong cold front moved south across the High Plains on Tuesday afternoon and evening, bringing an episode of blowing dust with it.  Here we look at what happened and how it appeared with some GOES-R Proving Ground products that highlight blowing dust.  The sequence of surface maps displayed below in Figure 1 show the southward plunge across the plains… Read more »

Great Lakes Ice Cover

The exceptionally cold winter over the Great Lakes region has led to relatively high ice coverage across the Great Lakes.  The GLERL analysis of ice cover percentage across the Great Lakes is 91% as of March 4:

To put this into a historical perspective, the ice… Read more »

Strong winds coupled with dry soil led to widespread blowing dust across the eastern plains of Colorado and areas east on Thursday 16 January 2014.  A short video clip shows the blowing dust obscuring visibilities in Logan County in far northeastern Colorado (see ).  The lowered visibilities in the blowing dust resulted in a multi-car… Read more »

The Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (DNB), which can use moonlight to produce visible-light imagery during the nighttime, offers a unique capability that is slated to continue on the JPSS constellation concurrent to the GOES-R era.  This presents intriguing potential for synergy between the DNB and Advanced Baseline Imager.  One can use the imagery just as visible imagery is currently… Read more »

Orographic Cirrus of 18 December 2013

Orographic cirrus (i.e., mountain wave) clouds can have a significant influence on temperature forecasts, particularly during the cold season when a reduction in insolation can drastically affect temperatures during the daytime.

On December 18, 2013 the CIRA synthetic 4-km NSSL-WRF ARW and NAM-Nest initialized at 0000 UTC 18 December forecasted orographic cirrus downwind of the Front Range of Colorado during… Read more »

As winter continues to settle in across the nation and snow cover increases, an issue that arises is trying to see cloud cover over a snow pack during the daytime with visible satellite imagery, since both appear white.  Certainly looping the imagery can help although issues can still remain.  Snow cover can have a significant effect on the local weather,… Read more »

The previous blog entry discussed CIRA satellite imagery that can be useful in highlighting fog and low clouds.  These images utilize existing satellite imagery to create images that try to replicate those that will be available in the GOES-R era.  Another method to create GOES-R type imagery is to use output from a high-resolution model (in this case NSSL’s 4-km… Read more »

Widespread fog and low clouds covered much of the nation east of the Rockies 0n the morning of 3 Dec in the moist airmass ahead of the developing western storm and strong cold front that has since pushed south.  Dense Fog Advisories were issued by many WFOs, as seen in the graphic below valid at 1324 UTC on 3 Dec.

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October 17, 2012 fog over Wisconsin

Let’s examine the synthetic low cloud / fog product from the 4-km NSSL WRF-ARW model.  This is from the 0000 UTC 17 October run valid between 0900-1600 UTC 17 October:

Low cloud / fog is depicted as blue in this color table, with mid- to high level clouds being black / dark grey.  Early in… Read more »

The synthetic low cloud / fog product from the NSSL WRF-ARW model has a variety of forecasting applications.  One of those is forecasting the development of stratus clouds.

The NWS forecast office in Austin / San Antonio made use of this product for the above mentioned application on September 23:



626… Read more »

As part of NOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Experiment at the Storm Prediction Center, CIRA is delivering 3 synthetic imagery products to be evaluated in the Experimental Warning Portion of the experiment in their AWIPS-II system: 6.95 micrometers, 10.35 micrometers, and the 10.35 – 12.3 micrometer difference product.  Chris Siewert is hosting a separate blog and regularly adding posts with… Read more »

A period of extremely heavy rain and massive higher elevation snow hit California and other portions of the West during mid-December 2010.  Here we take a look at the ORI product for a portion of this storm, concentrating on Central and then Southern California.  The ORI (for Orographic Rain Index) product is designed to indicate to forecasters where there is… Read more »

GeoColor and Low cloud/Fog GOES-R Proving Ground imagery from CIRA has been available at the Boulder WFO for several years.  After feedback from the forecasters, recently GeoColor imagery without the city lights was added.  This example shows both types of GeoColor imagery along with the Low Cloud/Fog product for a case of expanding low clouds and fog that eventually moved… Read more »

Buffalo WFO SOO David Zaff collected this imagery from one of the forecasters, Robert Hamilton, who sent him the following message: “I found it very interesting to see snow cover on the basic IR imagery late this afternoon, so I have attached both the IR and VIS imagery from 19z.  ‘Sampling’ over the snow cover on the IR imagery, I was getting consistent temps of -2 to -3c,… Read more »

This example from the Boulder WFO shows the use of synthetic IR imagery generated from the 4-km horizontal grid resolution NSSL WRF model for predicting an area of fog and low clouds near the Denver International Airport (DIA) on the morning of 8 November 2011.  The WRF model is run daily at 0000 UTC, and the ultimate purpose of the… Read more »

This blog entry will look at an example of the synthetic fog product (from the 4-km NSSL WRF-ARW model) for an event that took place during the overnight hours of November 19 to 20, 2011.

Here is the synthetic fog product during the overnight hours:

There is southerly flow advecting moisture from the Gulf of… Read more »

MODIS Snow/Cloud Discriminator Example

As part of the GOES-R Satellite Proving Ground, NASA MODIS data are being used to preview the kinds of snow detection capabilities that will become available from the GOES-R ABI.  The fading image example above demonstrates the MODIS Snow/Cloud Discriminator product, coupled with the true… Read more »

Upon inspection of the synthetic infrared (10.35 micron) imagery from the NSSL WRF-ARW model:

your attention may be drawn to the region of southwest Colorado since we see a region of cold brightness temperatures  that does not move and persists for the duration of the loop (1600-0000 UTC).  Could these be low clouds / fog?… Read more »

Let’s analyze the following loop of the synthetic fog product, generated from the 4-km NSSL WRF-ARW model:

In this color table, grey into light blue represents increasing confidence in liquid water clouds.  Our example from the 0000 UTC 10 October 2011 NSSL WRF-ARW model run shows a large area of liquid water clouds (most likely… Read more »

Synthetic satellite imagery can be useful in forecasting temperature.  This example from September 20-21, 2011 demonstrates the utility of synthetic imagery from the 4-km NSSL WRF-ARW model in forecasting the overnight low temperature.

Focusing on southeast Wyoming, examine the synthetic infrared imagery from late afternoon (2000 UTC) through the late night hours (0800 UTC):

Early… Read more »

Synthetic Fog Product

A new synthetic difference product is now being produced from the NSSL WRF-ARW output: the fog product, or 10.35 – 3.9 μm.  In order to generate synthetic 3.9 μm imagery in a timely manner, it’s necessary to assume that it’s always night because the solar reflected calculations are too expensive.  This allows the traditional fog product to be displayed for all… Read more »

Synthetic Imagery for Hurricane Irene

Synthetic imagery from the 4-km NSSL-WRF ARW model is produced at CIRA and is available in real-time here:

The following loop shows Hurricane Irene at the time it was east of Florida:

The right side shows the synthetic infrared imagery from the 0000 UTC 25 August model run, and the… Read more »

Sent to the BUF SOO by forecaster Kirk Apffel

The new CIRA stratus/fog IR satellite worked well late afternoon/evening.  It clearly showed low stratus and fog developing on Lake Erie, which was hardly visible on other products. It was useful because the new product captured the feature before sunset (after sunset the 11u-3.9u picked it up).

Read more »

Summary: (comments are given for each time) -Widespread blowing dust behind a strong dry line pushing across the western half of Texas -Compared the two CIRA dust products with AWIPS visible imagery for 3 times on 27 Feb 2011 -Also looked at MODIS true-color visible imagery Read more »

For this blog entry, we’ll consider applications of the NSSL 4-km WRF-ARW model synthetic imagery towards a severe weather event that occurred on June 22, 2010.  The synthetic imagery is one of the GOES-R proving ground real-time products.   Synthetic imagery is model output that is displayed as though it is satellite imagery.  Analyzing synthetic imagery… Read more »

On the morning of 19 Jan. 2011, a nice example of using the simulated WRF imagery to forecast low clouds presented itself.  The image on the right is the 17-hour forecast from the 00Z WRF run, and low clouds are evident in the Arkansas River Valley in… Read more »

Reccent Comments

wow thank you for useful information about GOES-16
UHF/VHF | Seeing the Light
[…] complicated to go into here. You can read up on the RGB Airmass product here, or visit my collegue D. Bikos’ blog to find out more about this storm and these […]
Scott Bachmeier
Excellent analysis of this event. As a supplement, we have GOES-15 and Himawari-8 water vapor imagery of the storm posted on the CIMSS Satellite Blog:
I thought this was really well done. I learned a lot about Synthetic Satellite Imagery and I thought your guys topic was very interesting.
Help NOAA refine its Cloud-Sensing Techniques with the SatCam App | wildcard weather
[…] Find the clouds, find the snow. Tricky isn’t it. Image from RAMMB: GOES-R Proving Ground Blog at… […]