Of all aspects of Meteorology there’s on aspect that’s my absolute favorite thing in the world and that would be satellites. I mean just think about it for a minute. High above your head is essentially a giant super expensive camera taking super detailed pictures of the earth that have the ability to show the weather’s beauty and it’s power.
For example: The above image is a visible image from GOES-16 of Hurricane Harvey as it was nearing the Texas coast last year. That image is seriously awesome. How does your jaw not drop just admiring the perfect circulation and perfectly defined eye that was the category 4 storm? I guess maybe it’s not as cool if you’re not into meteorology, but to each their own.
The above image is a real time image(real time at the time I’m typing this) of the continental United States. There are a couple things of note here that would suggest current weather across different parts of the country. First, an area of low pressure over northern Utah, right around the Salt Lake City area. How do I know? The Counter-clockwise rotation of that mass of clouds is a dead giveaway. Of course I have the added advantage of playing an animation. That system suggests it’s probably raining across portions of Utah and maybe a bit into Southern Idaho. There are other methods to check that hypothesis, but I’ll look at those with a different system.
Now we look over Florida and you’ll notice another area of low-pressure which can also be denoted by the counter-clockwise rotation of this mass of cloud cover. You could also look at a pressure map, but for the sake of this blog that’s not an option. This system is much bigger and slightly more organized. Not so organized that it’ll become anything tropical which is fantastic news. The NHC does have a 10% chance of further development, which is minimal at best.
Thinking about determining if there’s any rain with this system we can look at a different satellite image. Now we look at Water Vapor Imagery. In this case we’re using a satellite to look at how much moisture is present. In this case brown to black is dry to drier air, and blue to darker blue indicates less and more moisture present. Deeper blues over the east coast of Florida, Southern Georgia, and South Carolina indicate more moisture is present in this system. From that we could draw the conclusion of some thicker clouds that may contain rain.
There is another satellite we can look at to determine the chance there may be some thunderstorm activity. This is an infrared satellite. Now you maybe familiar with this type of color scale and it means the same thing here. The blue indicates colder clouds which are therefor higher, and could point to areas of increased instability with the higher cloud tops pointing to more development. If I was a betting man I would probably say rain over Florida and Georgia, but nothing severe.
All of that being said and conclusions from each map drawn it’s time to check our work. The radar image above confirms every conclusion we drew from the various satellite images we looked at. On the visible imagery we drew the conclusion of an are of low-pressure. The above rain is also rotating in a counter-clockwise direction. There is in fact a plethora of moisture present with the heaviest rain off the east coast of Florida and scattered shower activity across Georgia and South Carolina. Just like we concluded in the infrared image, while there may be some thunderstorm activity, we’re mostly talking about a heavy rain situation.
This will be the theme here in the Tennessee valley as this whole system moves northwest through the week. Each day beginning this afternoon will be filled with scattered showers and thunderstorms some of which could be strong, but we’re not expecting anything severe. I hope maybe this blog gave you a new appreciation for something you probably rarely think about. Satellites are awesome, and can do so much for us.