GOES Imager Low Cloud Base

The Albuquerque office participated in the Fog Study Intensive Observing Period this past January.  Several of our forecasters now routinely use the Low Cloud Base product to monintor low clouds and fog, especially those working the aviation desk.  Observations in New Mexico are quite sparse.

Last week, I worked a midnight shift during which a back door front moved into eastern New Mexico.  This feature can result in low clouds in the east and at some of our TAF sites, including KLVS, KTCC and KROW. I was monintoring the low cloud base product – I had hinted at some low clouds at KLVS but did not feel confident to include a MVFR ceiling in the TAF.  Mid and high clouds, remants of monsoon convecting, can often mask the low cloud develop on traditional satellite imagery.  2000 ft ceilings did develop at KLVS, but were not indicated on the GOES Imager Low Cloud Base at that location.  At least the imagery does let you know that low ceilings are developing and to monitor TAF sites closely.

A day or two later, a similar situation occurred.  One of the problems is that the last Low Cloud Base product is for 1115Z, and it is not uncommon for low clouds to develop after that time.  Such was the case on the morning of August 12.  The first visible image of the day indicated an area of low clouds and fog.  KCQC came in with BKN005 at 13Z and 1/4SM FOG VV001 by 14Z.  No TAF sites were affected. The 1115Z Low Cloud did not show the clouds.

One thought on “GOES Imager Low Cloud Base

  1. Just as a reminder, the GOES Low Cloud Base product is only produced at night. It depends on a channel differencing technique that is not valid when sunglint is present, and hence will not have a product beyond 1115Z (although it may change to 1215Z in winter). More details on the Low Cloud Base product can be found in the training module on the Fog Depth product on the SPoRT website – http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/sport/training/

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