Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Thunderstorm threat

At my teams softball game I was worried we might get rained on, but instead the sky showed off some really neat clouds. It looked like the thunderstorm was being sheered apart by strong winds aloft.

Some neat mammatus clouds

NASA/OrbitalATK SLS Rocket Booster Test: Promontory Point, Ut

Hundreds of people, including myself and fellow NASA nerdy classmates, gathered at the seemingly desolate Promontory Point in Utah, the location the transcontinental railroad was finished, to watch a rocket! NASA and Orbital ATK tested a booster rocket for the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket ever built and designed to carry humans to Mars.

It was a sunny morning with some scattered alto-cumulus that made for a great sunrise.

After picking up the NASA swag (stickers, pens, posters) we met an astronaut, Don Tomas!

The test was delayed an hour due to computer issues. With hundreds of people in the crowd we were anxious to start the countdown...

Then the countdown began...and then ignition, and the cheers erupted! (Video)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dusty Day

Strong winds in Utah stirred up a lot of dust

 Wind speeds for time picture was taken

There is a spike in PM 2.5 at the time the winds pick up...
Even ozone pollution reached high levels exceeding NAAQS in a few locations.

Yesterday ozone roses at NAA and MtMet. 


Wind Roses speed

And just for fun... that bright "star" below the moon is really Mars

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Satellite Upgrade: GOES-R --> GOES-16

From an email about the GOES-R satellite preparing for launch this fall...
The links are broken, but you can copy and paste the URL in a new tab or look at archived looped here:


I'm sure many of you are already aware of the details of NOAA's new geostationary satellite, GOES-R, scheduled for launch this Fall.  But in case not, read on.

GOES-R will represent the first significant upgrade in NOAA's geostationary satellite fleet since GOES-8 in the mid 90's.  It will become GOES-16 after launch, and will carry the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), in addition to some space weather instrumentation.  The ABI will have 16 spectral bands, including one visible band with a 500 m footprint at nadir, additional visible bands at 1 km resolution, and IR bands at 2 km resolution.  The satellite will be able to collect data at a much faster rate than current GOES, allowing for 15-min full disk scans, 5 min CONUS scans, and 1-min scans over two ~1000x1000 km movable mesoscale domains.  You've probably seen some of the recent GOES-14 1-min loops; this will be similar, except at 500-m resolution in the VIS instead of 1-km, a factor of four spatial resolution improvement.

GOES-16 will first be placed at 89.5 W longitude for an extended checkout period, and will be moved to either the West (135 W) or East (75 W) position approximately 1 year after launch.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) launched Himawari-8 about 1.5 years ago, and it carries an imager very similar the ABI.  The primary difference is that the ABI has a band near 1.3 micrometers for cirrus detection, while Himawari's AHI has a band in the green portion of the visible spectrum near 0.51 micrometers.  Himawari has allowed us to begin working with the best possible GOES-R proxy data and to get a feel for the amazing imagery we can expect in less than a year.  Below are links for a variety of Himawari animations, including some individual bands and some multispectral products. Big thanks to JMA for providing the data to NOAA.

A 930 mb low in the north Pacific from Dec. 2015 with the Geocolor product (combines daytime true color imagery with a multispectral product at night in which liquid water clouds are red and ice clouds are shades of gray):

There are many more examples on CIRA's Himawari Loop of the Day page:

I've barely touched on the plethora of new products and capabilities that GOES-R will provide.  For more details or send along any questions you might have.

Sorry for the novel,


Daniel T. Lindsey, Ph.D.
Research Meteorologist
NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research
Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch - CIRA
Fort Collins, CO  80523

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Gusty winds: Microburst

It was a sunny, warm afternoon and I was standing at the train station waiting for the Frontrunner. Almost in an instant, the winds gusted for a good minute or so, blowing from the east. (Red Circle is where I was standing)

The event happened at 16:35 MDT, the last section of the time series below.

Gusty winds like these occur when rain evaporates and cools the air below a cloud. The evaporation cools the air and the air suddenly sinks. You're standing under a water fall of dry air coming from the bottom of a precipitating cloud.

Turns out this was only the beginning of a windy evening in Salt Lake City. See the article here: