Nighttime Microphysics Aids Poor Radar Coverage

The Four Corners region is no stranger to poor radar coverage.  The lowest slice on the Albuquerque radar is roughly 15,000′ above ground level.  The radar image shows despite the site reporting light rain there is no reflectivity present.  The VIIRS nighttime microphysics image from 0753UTC on July 17, 2013 shows where a well defined area of mid level clouds and the associated showers are moving across the area.  The traditional GOES 11-3.9 micron imagery shows very little detail to this cloud feature and does not provide a clear picture between low, mid, and high level cloud cover.  We can use the nighttime microphysics imagery to infer that there are showers across this region not seen on radar.  The cloud cover and visibility were not low enough to impact aviation across this area however overcast skies and brief showers lingered through sunrise.


Radar reflectivity 0800UTC July 17, 2013

VIIRS nighttime microphysics 0753UTC July 17, 2013

VIIRS nighttime microphysics 0753UTC July 17, 2013

GOES 11-3.9micron 0800UTC July 17, 2013

GOES 11-3.9micron 0800UTC July 17, 2013

3 thoughts on “Nighttime Microphysics Aids Poor Radar Coverage

  1. Thanks for the post. This is an interesting scenario, especially for those of us used to the availability of radar across the eastern United States.

  2. Very interesting use of the Night-time Microphysics RGB imagery. This greatly helps the community of users and developers to understand the WFO challenges and the potential of satellite imagery. There are a number of cloud features in the RGB in this example that have similar coloring to those over Farmington. Do you believe that these other areas also have precipitation making to the ground? How much precipitation occurred at Farmington while the radar reflective was absent?

  3. Good questions Kevin!…you asked what I was going to. I was immediately wondering if they inferred precipitation in the other areas with similar cloud cover and made any changes to forecast products.

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