The satellite and radar images coming out of Tuesday's severe weather is approaching "map porn" caliber for weather geeks. The top of this post features a high-resolution satellite image of the central United States, showing severe thunderstorms over Iowa and Illinois, as well as a stubborn and intense supercell near Denver, Colorado.
A high resolution satellite image of the thunderstorms that produced historic amounts of rain on the northern Gulf Coast on Tuesday. Pensacola recorded over 15" of rain and Mobile recorded nearly 12". When the storms first began, Mobile Regional Airport recorded rainfall rates of 12 inches per hour for a few minutes.
A large low pressure system sitting over the southeastern United States is creating quite the sight on satellite imagery this afternoon as it wraps dry air into its core. This is a water vapor image from the GOES satellite, showing the moisture in the atmosphere around 10,000 feet up. Warmer colors indicate drier air, and cooler colors indicate moist air.
Satellites are an integral part of life these days, from meteorologists tracking storm systems to spying on your neighbors in Google Earth. When Malaysia Airlines 370 went missing a few weeks ago, investigators turned to satellite imagery to aid search and rescue teams spot any possible wreckage in the ocean. While crews are using the blurry images as possible leads to search for debris, people on social media want to know why we can't see the objects more clearly from space.
This satellite image shows strong extratropical cyclone (pressure of ~960 millibars) as it swirls south of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the northwestern Pacific Ocean on March 21, 2014. A very long, well-defined front extends from the low over 3,500 miles southward towards the Philippines. The front is mostly a cold front, but it transitions into a stationary front as it starts to take on an east-west orientation at lower latitudes.
A cool feature of strong cold fronts as they move over open water is the large area of cloud streets they can leave behind. As the cold, dry air interacts with the warmer ocean water, it creates narrow bands of convection (rising and sinking air) parallel to the direction of the wind. If conditions are right, these narrow bands of convection sometimes appear in the form of long, thin rows of cumulus clouds known as "horizontal convective rolls," or cloud streets.
A new satellite launched by NASA at the end of February called Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) will revolutionize the way meteorologists and other scientists view precipitation here on Earth. The satellite has the capability to take a high-resolution picture of all the precipitation occurring on earth — from rain to snow and everything in between — every two to three hours.