Short-Interval SMS Wind Vector Determinations for a Severe Local Storms Area

Cynthia A. Peslen Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Greenbelt, MD 20771

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Abstract

Short-interval SMS-2 visible digital image data are used to derive wind vectors from cloud tracking on time-lapsed sequences of geosynchronous satellite images. The cloud tracking areas are located in the Central Plains, where on 6 May 1975 hail-producing thunderstorms occurred ahead of a well-defined dry line.

Cloud tracking is performed on the Goddard Space Flight Center Atmospheric and Oceanographic Information Processing System (AOIPS). Lower tropospheric cumulus tracers are selected with the assistance of a cloud-top height algorithm. Divergence is derived from the cloud motions using a modified Cressman (1959) objective analysis technique which is designed to organize irregularly spaced wind vectors into uniformly gridded wind fields.

The results demonstrate the feasibility of using satellite-derived wind vectors and their associated divergence fields in describing the conditions preceding severe local storm development. For this case, an area of convergence appeared ahead of the dry line and coincided with the developing area of severe weather. The magnitude of the maximum convergence varied between -10-5 and -10-4 s-1. The number of satellite-derived wind vectors which were required to describe conditions of the low- level atmosphere was adequate before numerous cumulonimbus cells formed. This technique is limited in areas of advanced convection.

Abstract

Short-interval SMS-2 visible digital image data are used to derive wind vectors from cloud tracking on time-lapsed sequences of geosynchronous satellite images. The cloud tracking areas are located in the Central Plains, where on 6 May 1975 hail-producing thunderstorms occurred ahead of a well-defined dry line.

Cloud tracking is performed on the Goddard Space Flight Center Atmospheric and Oceanographic Information Processing System (AOIPS). Lower tropospheric cumulus tracers are selected with the assistance of a cloud-top height algorithm. Divergence is derived from the cloud motions using a modified Cressman (1959) objective analysis technique which is designed to organize irregularly spaced wind vectors into uniformly gridded wind fields.

The results demonstrate the feasibility of using satellite-derived wind vectors and their associated divergence fields in describing the conditions preceding severe local storm development. For this case, an area of convergence appeared ahead of the dry line and coincided with the developing area of severe weather. The magnitude of the maximum convergence varied between -10-5 and -10-4 s-1. The number of satellite-derived wind vectors which were required to describe conditions of the low- level atmosphere was adequate before numerous cumulonimbus cells formed. This technique is limited in areas of advanced convection.

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