Very strong dry north winds developed over West Texas on Friday April 15, 2011 as an intense upper level low pressure system ejected east across the Great Plains. A significant dust plume was captured exceptionally well on the 1923 UTC 1km MODIS color composite imagery below. Surface observations overlaid on the imagery show wind gusts in excess of 50 knots across a large portion of the West Texas panhandle. The NAM12 850-500mb lapse rates are also overlaid on the imagery. Note the dust plume coincides remarkably well with the steepest lapse rates from the NAM, the greatest surface dewpoint depressions, and the strongest winds.
The MODIS-GOES hybrid IR images also depicted the dust plume very well over the region. Note the second image at 1732 UTC shows a blurred region of dust over west Texas, several hot spots over central Texas, and a cloud field over eastern Colorado. The third image from 1745 UTC represents the GOES-R ABI proxy to the IR image. Note the density differences within the dust plume and the sharper edges available in the proxy image, the location and size of the hot spots over central TX are much clearer, and the cloud field over eastern Colorado is likely instability driven convective cumulus.
This satellite imagery has enhanced our situational awareness of several significant ongoing hazardous weather events across the region. The imagery combined with surface observations will likely improve the timing, location, and accuracy of visibility reductions necessary for terminal aerodrome forecasts. The imagery has also served as a learning tool to improve our understanding of the processes behind the development of significant dust plumes.