Meteorological Images of February 2013

By: Stu Ostro , 3:30 AM GMT on March 05, 2013

Share this Blog

After the February 8-9 blizzard, I posted for that storm a special edition of my "meteorological images" series; there were other significant weather systems during February and in turn other vivid visualizations, and here is a selection of them which not only are cool to look at but chronicle the month's weather highlights.

Well, except for this cartoon! (Which is not about a weather event per se, but in its own way it's about a lot of weather events ... Although at the time I'm posting this, there's suspense about the outcome of the upcoming storm and how far north it'll get and whether it'll be a shorter-range W or FAIL for the ECMWF, which last week did much better than the GFS in advertising the potential for a major storm in the Mid-Atlantic vs. it sliding out to sea.)


I ROTFL upon seeing this. Brilliant!

Image credit: It went viral, but as best I can tell, via a post on the Facebook page of Craig Allen On-Air Inc, the original source was an image from, which Mike Favetta changed the captions of, and then Scott Derek added the NAM.


In the Southern Hemisphere, it's summer and tropical cyclone season. Haruna was deadly in Madagascar; as it approached the island, this high-resolution satellite image revealed swirling detail of shallow clouds within the eye, surrounded by deeper clouds of the eyewall.

Image credit: NASA/GSFC MODIS Rapid Response


Though not structurally the same as eyes in the center of hurricanes, the winter storms TWC named Nemo* and Plato* had eyes nonetheless, within eight days of each other in almost the exact same location!

Image credit: National Weather Service - Gray, Maine

[*Yes, I know not everyone is a fan of TWC naming winter storms, and for that reason I haven't used their names much in my Wunderblogging, but am in this one given how many major storms there were last month, and one thing about having names is being able to use them to simplify referencing particular events, e.g. rather than "the one which produced a major blizzard in New England and then the next nor'easter which brought the thundersnow to Charlotte and bombed off the coast but just brushed New England," instead just being able to say "Nemo and Plato."]


That's the question my TWC colleagues and I were asking when it appeared on velocity imagery the evening of February 8 at the height of Nemo.

There's an old joke amongst meteorologists that if you don't know what caused something, blame it on a gravity wave. Well, this looks sorta gravity wavy, but it also looks like it might have some sort of bogus radar artifact thing going on (aliasing problem?).

Image credit: Gibson Ridge


Plato had a spectacular appearance on water vapor satellite imagery.

Image credit: NERC Satellite Receiving Station, Dundee University, Scotland


And the system had a very interesting appearance on visible satellite imagery before it went offshore and exploded. This little convective cluster in between a patchwork of cold stratocu to the west and a solid cloud shield to the east brought thundersnow to Charlotte, and then radar imagery showed that the thing spun into an MCV (mesoscale convective vortex). I can't recall ever seeing anything like that in wintertime within cold air in this part of the country.

Image credit: NASA Earth Science Office


The subsequent extreme bombogenesis resulted in a heckuva low central pressure by nor'easter standards, with 956 millibars measured at a buoy.

Image credit: NOAA/NWS/NDBC


This graph is not as dramatic, but look closely at what it represents. That's a significant wave height (average of the top 1/3) of 19 meters, which equals ~62 feet. Those are mighty big waves that a long strong fetch produced early in the month, even by the standards of the northeast Atlantic off the coast of Scotland.

Image credit: NOAA/NWS/NDBC


The easiest forecast of the month was that with the "Q" storm there was going to be a widespread area of heavy snow and a transition band of ice, the key being a strong arctic high pressure system anchored to the north supplying cold air which was "fresh" (as opposed to "stale" and easily dislodged).

Surface temperature/pressure 12 UTC 21 February 2013
Image credit: Plymouth State University


The yellow and orange shades in this colorized infrared satellite image of Q represent convection (thunderstorms). In a typical cyclone that looks like this, the thunderstorms would be in the "warm sector" where temperatures and dewpoints are high and the atmosphere is ripe for tornadoes. In this case that zone was confined to near the Gulf Coast, while in Kansas and Missouri there was the aforementioned supply of fresh arctic air, and the convection manifested itself in an unusually large amount of thundersnow along with high snowfall rates.

Image credit: The Weather Channel


Earlier in the month, the supercell thunderstorm that shortly before the time of this image produced a tornado in Hattiesburg, Miss. shows up on radar as a donut with a hole in the middle where the flow of air was rotating.

Image credit:


An "Alberta Clipper" on the second day of the month left a narrow band of snow cover across St. Louis with edges that were exceptionally straight and sharp.

Image credit: NASA/GSFC MODIS Rapid Response


Toward the end of the month the Texas Panhandle was hit by a severe blizzard. This satellite image shows not only fresh snow cover afterward there and across the central and southern Plains from Winter Storm Rocky, but also detail in the topography near Amarillo with the Caprock Escarpment to the southeast and Lake Meredith & the Canadian River valley to the northeast, and a sunrise cloud shadow over Kansas on the western edge of the cyclone.

Image credit: University of Washington


The NWS noted this: "To some people in town, 19 inches may seem like a high number for snowfall given what they saw in town. If you get any inquiries, the reason the amounts were higher out here at the airport is a convective band that set up east of town for several hours early Monday morning. Thunder, lightning, and snowfall rates of 2-3 inches per hour during this band gave us the higher totals, while there was much less convection further west."

This was the band to which they referred:

Image credit: Gibson Ridge


That storm would go on to produce an even more vivid snowband. Try predicting the mesoscale details of this in advance!

Image credit: Gibson Ridge


A colorful "false-color" image of Italy's Etna volcano erupting.

Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

Sign In or Register Sign In or Register

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 6 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

6. johnmuller
1:46 PM GMT on October 11, 2013
Hi there! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your browsing extremely high?
Member Since: September 13, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 5
4. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
4:17 AM GMT on July 01, 2013
stuostro has created a new entry.
3. DirtAddsHP
2:06 AM GMT on May 11, 2013
wow great photos! keep em coming!
Member Since: April 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
2. charlesimages
8:18 AM GMT on April 01, 2013
Great stuff here Stu!! I'm a sucker for satellite images.
Member Since: May 25, 2006 Posts: 347 Comments: 29278
1. Skyepony (Mod)
3:38 AM GMT on March 11, 2013
Great captures Stu. Nice Haruna eye.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 300 Comments: 41233

Viewing: 6 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

Top of Page

About stuostro

Proud to be a weather-obsessed weather geek! \m/ Senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel. If not a meteorologist, would be a DJ ♫

Local Weather

74 °F

Recommended Links