Typhoon remnants hitting #Alaska

The remnants of Typhoon Merbock have become a strong extratropical cyclone and is slamming in to Alaska today … here’s the GFS overlay showing the structure of the storm:

click to embiggen.

Alaska is pretty far north (duh). What that means is that the geosynchronous satellites (GOES – Geosynchronous Orbit Environmental Satellites) we rely on for near-instantaneous weather pictures are distorted since they are over the equator, and are looking at the state at a steep angle. Here is what the view from the GOES West satellite looks like right now …

Fortunately there is another family of satellites that is in a lower orbit and passes over the poles. These satellites, the NOAA Polar Operational Orbiting Satellites (POES) track over every point on the earth twice a day, and more frequently near the poles since they pass over each pole every 90 minutes. They give us a more overhead view. Here is the Alaska storm from NOAA-20, with a GFS forecast wind on top … notice the “swath” of the image as the satellite moves from north to south, and you can see the edges are a bit smeared since it is at a lower altitude.

There are also a set of NEXRAD radars across the state that are the same model we have down here in the lower 48. Here’s the view from Nome, which is closest to the storm center:

The west coast of Alaska is getting pounded right now with near hurricane force winds, 50 foot waves, storm surge, and rain. Conditions will be bad for a couple of days.

Roost Rings

The Charleston SC Doppler radar (really located south of Hampton, SC) picked up something that, if you’ve never seen them before, might send you scurrying to the news to see if something blew up, or the nearest UFO meeting to see what you missed:

Radar from KCLX (“Charleston” radar), Saturday Morning, 23 July 2022

Here is one frame zoomed in on the source, which seems to be east of Columbia, near Irmo, SC …

And here is what is there on Google Earth:

Click any graphic to embiggen.

So what is going on? The lake is a strong clue. It is a “Roost Ring”, radar returns from massive numbers of birds leaving their roosts to head out to forage for the day. Here is an article from the National Weather Service with more details (link). In this case we are seeing Purple Martins leaving Lake Murray, which holds the largest sanctuary in North America, Bomb Island, home to something like one million of these birds.

The above radar images are reflectivity (strength) on the left, and direction of motion relative to the radar station on the right. Green means it is moving towards the radar station, red away. On the zoomed in view, that “arrow” pointing towards the station is an artifact of the earth’s curvature, the height the birds are flying, and the scan angle of the radar. Another neat thing to see is that thunderstorm cluster that flared up over Myrtle Beach, visible in the top animation which covers from 5:30 to 7:30 am. At 6:15 it was nothing, by 7am it was a strong, 50dBZ return. That goes to show that this time if year it doesn’t take long for an innocent looking cloud to turn into a dangerous thunderstorm, so boaters and aviators beware! Just because the radar is clear now doesn’t mean it will be that way in 20 or 30 minutes.

FYI, there’s no threatening activity to speak of in the tropics anywhere in the world. JTWC is watching a weak circulation south of Japan, and NHC is watching activity in the Eastern Pacific, but staying offshore of Mexico and fading out before nearing Hawai’i, so no big risks there. No major earthquakes recently, and the situation in Ukraine continues to be Russia methodically working their way towards their objectives, not that you’d know that from Western media. The COVID pandemic is entering a new phase, with lots of interesting research and much better understanding of both the virus and how the vaccines interact. Unfortunately the data collection system and advice for the public, over two years after the virus appeared, is still substandard, with many states (like Georgia) not having updated their public data pages since April, and the news media jumping from issue to issue with no consistent coverage. The environment is so hostile for rational discourse that it’s hard to get the energy to write up something on either of those topics, but maybe I’ll give it a go next week.

Brief note on the Tonga eruptions

An undersea volcano near the island of Tonga (named Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai if you are curious) has erupted sending ash, debris, and a small tsunami over the island. Residents heard the boom of the eruption. While there have been tsunami warnings across the Pacific (including Japan, Australia/New Zealand, and the US West coast). Japan has seen four foot waves. Waves at Hawai’i have been small, and waves hitting California and Mexico should be under a foot, but there may be strong currents and higher surges in places. Here is what it looked like from the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Himawari satellite …

#Colorado Fires

The fires in Colorado are clearly visible from satellite. This overlay shows fires detected from the NOAA-20 satellite as flame icons:

click to enlarge.

The fires have jumped into several subdivisions. The early (very preliminary) economic impact estimates are over $500 Million, and the fires are still partly out of control. This is pretty unusual for this time of year, normally there would be snow covering the ground but it has been an unusually warm and dry winter so far, after a very dry summer and fall. Fortunately it looks like snow is already falling this morning, and 3 to 5 inches of accumulation is predicted over the next day or so.

You Got The Fire Down Below …

The fires out west are epic – you can actually see the flames from the GOES satellite in geosynchronous orbit, 22,236 miles up … here is the color view:

Click to embiggen and animate …

Here is a static view zoomed in a bit:

Yes, those red patches are actually fire!

These fires, and their impacts, are a wicked combination of short term weather patterns, human development and “management” practices, the natural order of things (fires are a normal way nature cleans out the brush; some plants and animals that depend on them actually need periodic fires to survive), and probably a bit of climate change thrown in. Either way, it’s spectacular (in a bad way if you live out there).

AL092020 and Chaos … (5pm Tue 28 July 2020)

So … I wasn’t planing on doing this quite so soon, but with Potential Tropical Cyclone #9 threatening the viral encrusted southeast, I’m doing a mega-juggleing act and trying to fire up the Patreon site, as well as do some much needed computer infrastructure rearranging.  So please be patient with the chaos … and the brevity of this post.  As for PTC9, nothing too much changed since NHC started advisories.  Here’s the latest “core” track models that NHC is having to work with.  I didn’t put GFS in here because the 12z run was way off and the 18z run isn’t up yet:

As for impacts, the current thinking is that this thing will remain a tropical storm until Florida landfall – but there is a yuge amount of uncertainty in that until it spins up better, so it may not even go to Florida.  Way too early to freak out if you are on the mainland US.  PR does need to prepare for a tropical storm, as do the USVI and northern Caribbean.  More in the morning …

Enki has started a Patreon account to help fund this work – please think about supporting us if you find this valuable.

Do satellite images show the Chinese burning thousands of bodies outside Wuhan?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer:  No, here’s the background:  There are a number of reports floating around that are implying that satellite data is showing high Sulphur Dioxide emissions outside Wuhan, China,and that means they are secretly burning thousands of bodies.  It’s being widely reported, especially on “alternative” news sites based on images from “windy.com”.  Here one such image (screenshot from windy.com):

Well, it’s just not true.

Continue reading

California Fires (28 October 2019); over $25Billion in property within one mile

It’s another bad fire season in California.  Wait, you may ask, isn’t it fire season year round in Cali?  It turns out no!  There are two distinct fire seasons, with two different forcing factors.  The Santa Anna wind driven fire season runs from October through April (winter/spring).  The high winds can drive fires into a frenzy – such as is happening this weekend, where winds in California have been gusting into tropical storm levels.  The second fire season, during the driest and hottest months of the summer, runs from June to September.  So … May is nice sometimes.

Here is a satellite view of the Kincade fire as the sun comes up this morning (from GOES 17) … click to animate if you dare (it is big):

Labeled view … click to embiggen:

In all seriousness this is a bad situation.  The Kincade fire, north of San Francisco, has over $10 Billion in property within a mile of the fires.  The Getty fire near LA has another $15 Billion at risk; statewide the total is over $25 Billion of property at immediate risk, being within one mile of an active fire.


#Saudi Arabia Refinery #Attacks

The weather isn’t by any means the most dangerous threat facing us.  My guess is most folks think of Enki as a hurricane or weather research group.  In fact, Hurricanes and Weather/Climate research is about 60% of Enki’s work right now.  Geophysical hazards (Earthquakes, Tsunamis) are another 20% or so, and about 10% “anthropogenic” hazards like LNG or nuclear power incidents.  But about 10% of Enki’s work is in the area of Foreign Policy and related issues (space, remote sensing, and open source intelligence) and impacts of WMD (nuclear mostly).  While the WMD/Foreign Policy related work is the smallest percentile it has been in a long time, in many ways that field was the most important, as many of the techniques used in the other areas originated in that dark realm.  I don’t often post about it for the obvious reasons, but also because unfortunately in modern day America it’s becoming increasingly hard to have a nuanced discussion about anything that touches on Politics. This blog actually started in the early 2000’s as “SatBlog”, and most of the posts were about  monitoring disasters, including war zones, using satellite remote sensing.  In may interest some of you that SatBlog broke several news stories during the Iraq invasion, including that the Iraqis had set the oil fields on fire.

This morning the Houthis rebels (with almost certain help from Iran) are alleged to have attacked multiple targets in Saudi Arabia, damaging several refineries and taking offline over half of Saudi oil production (there is reason to be skeptical of this narrative, but that is what the official sources say).  The fires and smoke plumes are visible from space, as this MODIS quick look image shows …

If these facilities are heavily damaged or stay offline for long, it will have a ripple effect throughout the fragile world economy.  And, of course, the inevitable retaliation will have consequences, and a spiral of violence is possible.  Scary stuff.

Atlantic low, California Fires

The low pressure system NHC is watching continues to develop, and the odds of something spinning up later in the week (Tuesday -Thursday) are increasing.  Here is what it looks like as the sun rises on Monday morning (12 November) …

NHC now give it a 50% chance of formation in the next 48 hours (through Tuesday), and a 90% chance in the next 5 days, so they are increasingly sure it will do something later in the week.  The GFS lowtracker loses it, but the model has a low east of the Bahamas by Thursday, other models (such as the UK models) have it going into the Caribbean.  As usual, with a weak, non-system, just identifying a center, much less predicting where it will go, is difficult. We may have more later today, but check back late tomorrow or Wednesday for a better picture of what it will do.

The situation in California is much clearer, and pretty bad.  Weather the next few days is expected to be favorable for the fires to spread.  Using satellite data, it seems that impacts are on the order of $20 Billion dollars so far – in other words, comparable to the hurricanes this year (Florence and Michael).  Worse, there is over $100 Billion(!) of infrastructure within five  miles of the active fires, which are not as of yet contained (one big fire is only 15% contained).  So it may well get worse …