Your world is a beautiful place, most of its inhabitants aside. The wonder of looking at our pale blue dot from hundreds of miles in space will never get old. Here's a look at your world today, in all of its awesome goodness.
Here's Your World Today is a new weekly feature on The Vane that explains the various weather features seen on full-disk satellite imagery from the GOES 13 weather satellite. The images in this post were taken from the satellite's 17:45 UTC sweep.
A) Deep Low Pressure Near Europe
A deep low pressure system is swirling about 500 miles west of Ireland this afternoon, with a minimum central pressure of 966 millibars. The structure of the low is pretty amazing, with a perfect spiraling cloud formation in the center of the storm. The system has an occluded front that stretches from its center towards the coast of Spain, at which point it transitions to a cold front that stretches thousands of miles into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
B) Greenland Isn't So Green
Also visible in this satellite image is the ice on Greenland (Greenland and Iceland are the geographic embodiment of "park on a driveway and drive on a parkway"). Temperatures in the middle of the icy country are dipping as low as -36°F, which is precisely why people only live on its outer edges.
C) Cold Front of Doom
Yowza, it's cold outside today. The 3:00 PM temperature in both New York and Washington was 32°F, and even in Orlando, Florida, the temperature is only 50°F. This cold front, which is squarely over the Atlantic now, served as the leading edge of our latest Arctic blast. It should warm up a little bit by the end of the week.
D) Lake Effect Snow
E) Snow on the Plains
As it's a large white blanket over a vast, mostly dead landscape, snowpack is easily viewed on visible satellite imagery. Stretching from Colorado through the Plains and into the Midwest and Ohio Valley, remnants of Sunday's snowstorm are still hanging around in this frigid air. The snowpack actually helps to keep temperatures down, keeping the snow around longer. Snowy life support, if you will.
F) Cloud Streets in the Gulf
Cloud streets are visible over the Gulf of Mexico, as Gulf-heated air rises into the colder, more stable air mass flowing south from the United States. All along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts behind the cold front, you can see clear skies and a 30-40 mile buffer between the coast and the beginning of the clouds. It's the same principle that goes into clouds and storms associated with a sea breeze, but in reverse (which is, incidentally, called a "land breeze").
G) Thunderstorms in the Amazon
Thunderstorms are popping up over the Amazon, as usual. They're the definition of "popcorn" storms—no rhyme or rhythm to their formation, they just POP!, roar, pour, and they're done.
H) Sea Breeze
If you look closely, you can see the effects of the sea breeze on the northeastern coast of Brazil this afternoon. The cool, stable sea breeze blows ashore and clears the skies out, but when it slows down and interacts with the stable air a few dozen miles inland, clouds and storms begin forming along its leading edge. Residents of the Gulf Coast are more than familiar with this daily phenomenon.
I) Muddy Waters
Recent rains are muddying the waters of the Amazon, causing the dirt and debris to flow to the mouth of the river and eject into the Atlantic Ocean. You can see the muddied mouth of the river on satellite imagery.
J) Low Over the Pacific
There's nothing particularly noteworthy about this low pressure system over the southern Pacific. It's just cool looking.
K) Actinoform Clouds
These vast expanses of funky clouds over the southern Pacific Ocean are called actinoform clouds. Meteorologists are still studying these clouds since they were only discovered when we started launching weather satellites in the 1960s. They can lead to an increase in drizzle, according to never-wrong Wikipedia.
L) Possible Tropical Storm?
The above, appropriately-annotated "L" is the location of a disturbance that the National Hurricane Center gives a medium chance of developing into a tropical cyclone over the next five days. If the storm develops into a tropical storm, its name will be Winnie, and it will be the 22nd named storm of the eastern Pacific hurricane season. Oh, bother.
M and N) Saharan Dust and the ITCZ
As I pointed out last week, you can see dust blowing off of the Sahara Desert (M) on satellite imagery, and you can see showers and thunderstorms forming along the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), which is where trade winds from the northern and southern hemisphere converge with one another.
[Images via NASA]