GOES-16 True Color

Line of thunderstorms over the southern Plains

10 October 202120:00 UTC-11 October 05:00 UTC

GOES-16 True Color
GOES-16 True Color

On 10-11 October 2021 convective storms developed along and ahead of a strong cold front related to a deep upper-level trough over the southern Plains.

Last Updated

10 June 2022

Published on

13 October 2021

By Nicol and Jochen Kerkmann (Germany), Scott Bachmeier (CIMSS)

Thunderstorms with wind gusts of 110km/h pounded northern Texas on Sunday night and early Monday (10-11 October), leaving sporadic damage and many people without power. At the same time, several tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma, causing damage but no immediate word of deaths or injuries, according to the Associated Press.

The storms and cold front can be seen in the GOES-16 Airmass RGB with ECMWF 500hPa geopotential overlaid from 11 October (Figure 1).

GOES-16 Airmass RGB & ECMWF 500 hPa geopotential, 11 Oct 00:00UTC
Figure 1: GOES-16 Airmass RGB + ECMWF 500hPa geopotential, 11 October 2021, 00:00 UTC. Source: EUMeTrain.

The GOES-16 Dust RGB animation (Figure 2) shows the frontal cloud band and the hazy signature of post-frontal blowing dust, which was evident immediately behind the western edge of the convective cloud line. It also shows a moisture boundary across the front, with moist tropical air before the front and dry continental air behind the front (see difference in colour in cloud-free areas, dry air has a higher red component). Note the intensification of the convective storms in the afternoon hours due to diurnal heating.

Figure 2: GOES-16 Dust RGB, 10 October 20:00 UTC–11 October 05:00 UTC. Credit: CIRA.

Figure 3 shows a six hour rapid scan animation of the cold front development. The period covers the late afternoon and the first part of the night. During the day, the True Color RGB is shown. At night, the window IR channel 13 (10.3µm) and the traditional fog product (10.3-3.9µm) are used to identify both ice and liquid water clouds, and they are made partially transparent and overlaid on a static city lights background, see Geocolor RGB quick guide.

Figure 3: GOES-16 GeoColor RGB plus GLM group energy density, 10 October 22:31 UTC–11 October 04:26 UTC (time step one-minute). Credit: CIRA.

The animation also displays the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) group energy density product as an overlay, see GLM quick guide. This new satellite product is used to detect electrically-active storms, observe the areal lightning extent, track embedded convective cells, identify strengthening and weakening storms, and monitor convective mode and storm evolution. As can be seen, all the storms along the cold front were very active electrically. Nicol Kerkmann, an exchange student in Fort Worth, told her father Jochen, a retired-EUMETSAT trainer, "there was lightning just all over the place. It was awesome to watch!"


Additional content

Severe thunderstorms in the Southern Plains (CIMSS Satellite Blog)
Line of storms erupts in the southern Plains (CIRA/RAMMB)
Strong Thunderstorm Winds Move Through Haslet, Tx (CBSDFW/YouTube)
Overview of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM)