Shallow Coastal Fog and VIIRS/MODIS Imagery…

Late yesterday evening (Dec 17th) fog began forming along coastal areas of Lousiana and Texas.  By 10 pm CST, visibilities at some locations along the coast had already dropped to less than 1 SM.  The fog continued to intensify, with visibilities falling to around 1/4 SM or less at many locations during the early morning hours this morning (Dec 18th).   By 2 am CST (0800 UTC), the visibility had fallen to near 0 SM in portions of SW Louisiana as noted by the observation at Jennings (3R7, near Fenton in the image, image 1).

GOES 11-3.9 Spectral Difference Image, with Ceiling (AGL) and Visibility (SM) observations 18 Dec 2013 0800/0815 UTC

Image 1.  GOES 11-3.9 Spectral Difference Image, with Ceiling (AGL) and Visibility (SM) observations 18 Dec 2013 0800/0815 UTC

In this standard GOES spectral difference imagery however, the fog is very diffcult to visually discern, likely due to it’s very shallow depth.   There is some indication of the fog, with slightly brighter pixels in areas of southern LA and SE Texas.  However, notice the better (albeit slightly) detection of the fog in the Nighttime Microphysics RGB products from the VIIRS and MODIS instruments below (images 2 and 3, respectively).  The fog in these images appears as a pinkish-gray color.

Image 2.  Suomi NPP VIIRS Nighttime Microphysics RGB 18 Dec 2013 0808 UTC

Image 2. Suomi NPP VIIRS Nighttime Microphysics RGB 18 Dec 2013 0808 UTC

Image 3.  Aqua MODIS Nighttime Microphysics RGB 18 Dec 2013 0804 UTC

Image 3. Aqua MODIS Nighttime Microphysics RGB 18 Dec 2013 0804 UTC

I think the fog is a little easier to see in the MODIS image, which may be due to higher resolution and small differences in channel wavelengths between the VIIRS and MODIS instruments.  Nevertheless, the fog in all of the imagery is rather subtle and will require development of pattern recognition by forecasters.  Sampling the color contributions, I found that the primary changes between areas of fog and areas without occurred in the green color (assigned the ~10.8-3.9/3.7 channel difference), which would be expected.  For example, when taking a color sample from the pinkish-gray band of fog in SW Louisiana (near Jennings) from the MODIS image, I came up with: Red-180, Green-137, Blue-165.  Meanwhile, sampling of a pixel in central Louisiana without fog: Red-167, Green-99, Blue-150.

So, how did the fog appear in the Day-Night Band RGBs?  Not very well at all, as you can see in the next couple of images…

Image 4.  Suomi NPP VIIRS Day-Night Band Radiance RGB 18 Dec 2013 0808 UTC

Image 4. Suomi NPP VIIRS Day-Night Band Radiance RGB 18 Dec 2013 0808 UTC

Image 5.  Suomi NPP Day-Night Band Reflectance RGB 18 Dec 2013 0808 UTC

Image 5. Suomi NPP Day-Night Band Reflectance RGB 18 Dec 2013 0808 UTC

I wasn’t able to detect any fog at all in the Day-Night Band RGB imagery.  However, there is still potentially important information to glean from all of this.  If the fog is evident (even slightly) in the NT Microphysics RGB imagery mainly due to the 10.8-3.7/3.9 channel difference, but is essentially translucent in the visible spectrum (Day-Night Band), then it is likely very shallow.  This could be helpful for determining the duration of the fog during a change of conditions, such as the development of mixing after sunrise (i.e. shallow fog dissipation will be quicker than thick fog dissipation).

Notice in the GOES visible loop below (images at 0445 UTC and 0601 UTC) that the fog dissipated very quickly after sunrise (click the expanded image to obtain the loop).

Loop of GOES visible images at 1445 and 1601 UTC with observations of

Loop of GOES visible images at 1445 and 1601 UTC with ceiling (AGL) and visibility (SM) observations  oat 1500 and 1600 UTC

The Corpus Christi, Houston and Slidell offices all issued Dense Fog Advisories or Special Weather Statements concerning the fog in their respective County Warning/Forecast Areas during the early morning hours.

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