Moonlit Thunderstorms of June 4, 2012

The early morning hours of June 4, 2012 included strong to severe thunderstorms across portions of Tennessee and Alabama.  As these storms moved through the area around 0700 UTC (early Monday morning), they were lit by the full moon and observed by the “day-night band” provided by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument flown aboard the Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership (S-NPP).  The resulting image has several characteristics of a normal daytime “visible” satellite image as moonlight is reflected from clouds and provides some dramatic depiction of cloud height and texture, despite the nocturnal image.  In addition to cloud features, lights from cities, highway corridors, and other developments are present.  Combinations of cloud cover and surface lights can provide some suggestion on cloud thickness as well.  For example, the cities of St. Louis and Little Rock are clearly apparent and well-detailed.  But, Nashville is only present as a faint glow — only a remnant of the city light diffuses through the higher altitude cirrus clouds.  Huntsville, Alabama is completely obscured by ongoing precipitation, but Birmingham and Tuscaloosa are only partially covered by thin cloud elements moving across the image. This type of imagery will assist with characterization of cloud structure and type in environments that are well-lit by moonlight, and also provide other applications by monitoring the light produced by human activity.

VIIRS Day-Night Band (moonlight reflectance and city lights) observed at approximately 0700 UTC on June 4, 2012 as thunderstorms moved across the southeastern United States.

2 thoughts on “Moonlit Thunderstorms of June 4, 2012

  1. Pingback: WeatherBrains 332: Grease Covered Cardboard : The Alabama Weather Blog

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