VIIRS Imagery Helps to Verify Heat Burst Event

Early on the morning of May 28, 2013, a wind gust of 71kt/82 mph at Clayton Municipal Airport (CAO) was noted during a routine check of observations.  A closer look at the Clayton observation showed that the temperature had increased rather dramatically from 66°F at 200 am MDT to 77°F at 313 am MDT.  5-minute observations for Clayton were requested, and verified a steady increase in temperatures during a 30 minute period as well as wind gusts increasing first to near 40 mph then peaking at 82 mph during the same 30 minute period .

Such observations can be associated with heat bursts.  However, there were no thunderstorms in northwest New Mexico during the overnight hours.  Composite reflectivity showed only some weak radar returns, though the KFDX radar was down and extreme NE New Mexico is poorly sampled by other radars.


The SPoRT IR hybrid imagery for this period included two VIIRS IR images.  Note the enhanced resolution in the images, depicting weak elevated convection.  Also shown on these images are the hourly CAO (metar) observations.  In the last frame, the peak gust of 71 kts, or 82 mph, is plotted and highlighted.


The VIIRS Day-Night Band 0833Z, or 233 am MDT helped us to differentiate the clouds in northeast New Mexico (red oval, includes Clayton) from those in the southeast corner of the state. Clouds in the northeast show the patterns and texture associated with elevated convection. This convection was likely sufficient to produce a heat burst.


The SPoRT satellite products when combined with the 5-minute CAO observations and composite reflectivity convinced forecasters on duty that the 71 kt wind was a valid observation.  After sunrise, calls were made to the Clayton area and damage reports included downed tree limbs up to 4 inches in diameter as well as overturnded 50 gallon trash cans.

3 thoughts on “VIIRS Imagery Helps to Verify Heat Burst Event

  1. Thank-you for the post. This was an interesting use for the VIIRS day-night band observations and the IR hybrid imagery.

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