Use of Cloud Phase Distinction RGB to anticipate convective initiation over Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana

Some members of the 12z Thu Jun 10 HREF run were a bit slow in initiating convection or too far east in developing convection over the Northern Plains. The NSSL WRF-ARW was closest to reality with respect to exact timing and location. A special 18Z RAOB from Glasgow (GGW) MT and the Cloud Phase Distinction RGB proved to be very helpful in showing convection was going to develop earlier than anticipated by the HREF guidance. The 18Z RAOB from GGW (below) showed weak CINH values, while the Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB (second graphic) showed an agitated cumulus field that was becoming quickly glaciated (single cell with yellow cloud top near the 93/61F sfc obs) indicating deep convective development was imminent.

Once deep convection initiated, single channel ‘Clean IR’ imagery and Day Convection RGB became more useful in determining updraft strength. These two products can be extremely useful in severe weather detection and warning decision making especially in absence of radar and/or lightning data or when used combined due to its faster temporal coverage (1-min in meso sector vs 5-min from radar).

The image above shows updrafts getting stronger in the 10.3 micron imagery (bottom left), and on the Daytime Convection RGB (bottom right) by evidence of yellow (red +green) pixels. Inflow feeder bands, a flanking line, towering cumulus above an invigorating RFD or flanking towers, and above anvil cirrus plume are also observed in the Day Cloud Convection and Cloud Phase Distinction RGBs (top panels) indicative of the storms likely being severe. In fact, the ProbSevere v3 and v2 output both indicated a very high probability of severe weather occurring with these storms with values over 90% (purple colors).