Here's Your World Today, Explained (December 4, 2014)
There are more than seven quintillion grains of sand in the world, almost all of which are visible in these satellite images if you look reeeeally hard. Here's a look from space at your world today, in all of its scary, powerful goodness.
Here's Your World Today is a semi-regular feature on The Vane that explains the various weather features seen on satellite imagery around the world. Today's post features a visible image of the Americas from GOES 13's 14:45 UTC sweep, an infrared image of Africa and Europe via EUMETSAT at 18:00 UTC, and an infrared image of the Eastern Hemisphere from Japan's MTSAT at 18:00 UTC.
A) Arctic Low
A strong Arctic low (min. pressure = 975 millibars) is swirling off the northeast coast of Labrador this afternoon. The system dragged a cold front across the United States Tuesday and yesterday, locking in place cool temperatures across much of the eastern United States.
B) Snow Pack
Today's visible satellite imagery shows a dense snow pack across a vast swath of northern Canada. This feature will remain in place until the spring, barring some unforeseen, freakishly sustained warm-up.
C) Carolina Fog
The combination of high moisture and cool temperatures led to widespread fog across many parts of the United States this week, with visibilities dropping to zero in many locations. At one point on Tuesday, dense fog covered almost all of the Carolinas.
Fog is easily seen in visible satellite imagery as it has a uniform, distinct look and often wraps around the area's terrain.
D) Rain! Glorious Rain!
A very rare sight in #Vegas last night. #Fog on the Strip! cc @KarlTheFog pic.twitter.com/oU0zcZyxKR
— Vegas (@Vegas) December 4, 2014
It's raining in the west! Parts of California have picked up more than five inches of rain over the past couple of days, and more is on the way. The moisture even brought a very rare sight to Las Vegas this morning—fog. This deserves a mention of its own due to its rarity. The city only saw dense fog (visibility less than a quarter of a mile) two times last year, compared to 17 instances in Central Park and 15 in Kansas City.
See that shimmering stripe of light in the oval over the eastern Pacific Ocean? That's the satellite picking up the reflection of the sun as it passes over that part of the world.
F) Cold, Rainy U.K.
The United Kingdom, typically known for its warm, sunny weather, is about to see a cold front sag southeast through the country over the next day or two that will bring cold, rainy, windy conditions. Enjoy!
G) Tropical Non-Tropical Blob
A batch of tropical showers and thunderstorms exists in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, as usual. It looks ominous, but it's harmless to anyone but fish, boats, and planes.
H) Springtime Storms Over Africa
Scattered springtime storms over the interior of Africa. Nothing too significant, just cool looking. Temperatures to the north and south of these storms are in the mid to upper 90s—underneath them? 70s, with 100% humidity.
I) Stationary Front
A low pressure system over the middle of the southern Atlantic is creating a stationary front, along which a band of clouds stretches from the southeastern coast of Brazil down to the Southern Ocean.
J) Antarctic Low
A cold/occluded front between South Africa and Antarctica is producing some pretty interesting clouds, with a sharp cutoff between cloudy and clear. Remember that just about every storm system in the Southern Hemisphere moves opposite of the way we experience them, so lows spin clockwise and the orientation of fronts are reversed—cold fronts usually move from south to north.
K) Cloud Streets
Infrared satellite imagery over the Eastern Hemisphere shows cloud streets and fog forming over the East China Sea as cold air blows off land and over the warmer waters.
L) Extratropical Cyclone
A weak low pressure system is moving away from Japan and out into the open waters of the Pacific. It will deepen to a formidable 957 millibar cyclone as it approaches the Aleutian Islands this weekend, after which it will absorb into other cyclones as they move towards British Columbia.
M) Super Typhoon Hagupit
Hagupit is going to be the biggest weather story of the month, if not the year. The storm currently has 165 MPH winds as it churns west towards the Philippines. All major meteorological agencies now expect the storm to make landfall, with some expecting the super typhoon to impact areas greatly affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan last year.
The storm will move slowly, producing copious amounts of rain and wind. Catastrophic flooding and mud/landslides are highly likely as the system moves ashore, not to mention the impact of the ferocious winds and potential storm surge.
N) Bonus! Fallstreak Hole in North Carolina
Out here in the boondocks of North Carolina, we had a couple of pretty nice decks of altocumulus clouds move through the area this morning. I love altocumulus clouds for one reason—fallstreak holes.
There's still a debate about how they form, exactly, but here's the prevailing theory right now. These clouds are made up of supercooled water droplets, and if anything disturbs them (like an airplane flying through the deck), it can cause the droplets to freeze into ice crystals and precipitate towards the ground. As the crystals fall and a chain reaction takes place, a large chunk of the cloud dissipates. What's left behind is a fallstreak, often called a hole punch for obvious reasons.
That's your world today, and we're sticking to it. For now.
[Images: NASA, EUMETSAT, JMA]