Follow Interesting Features on Satellite

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to follow weather features as they move? Often, we view satellite and radar images using a fixed geographical frame (e.g. satellite animations centered over Upper Michigan). However, centering the animation on a weather feature can provide an interesting perspective. Below are two animations of cloud patterns as they traversed the region on the afternoon of June 16th, 2013.

  • The first is of a developing, and then decaying thunderstorm complex as it moved across northern Minnesota to along the MI/WI border. The thunderstorms left behind a rain-cooled stable layer noted by the clearing behind the storms. As stable air moves outward, it creates mini-cold fronts that can act as a trigger for new thunderstorm development. It can be seen toward the end of the animation that new storms developed on the edge of the residual stable air across northeast Minnesota. (note: the yellow marks indicate detected lightning strikes.)




  • Here is an animation following the progression of the Lake Superior lake breeze. The lake breeze collided with the Lake Michigan and Bay of Green Bay lake breezes pinned against the lakeshores, and provided locally enhanced lifting to produce thunderstorms. Also note the wave pattern in the fog/stratus clouds across eastern Lake Superior and how this patch of fog/clouds dissipated and spread outward as it reached the warmer mainland. The waves were a result of rain-cooled air moving across the stable marine layer.


  • This last loop is of water vapor satellite imagery, which shows the amount of moisture in the mid to upper levels of the atmosphere. It is a good tool for spotting subtle features that can have major impacts on weather. Moist air is depicted by the blues, whites and greens, with the greens indicating thicker mid to upper level clouds. The small curl in the image moving across North Dakota this morning has had major implications on the weather across Minnesota and Upper Michigan. Notice how thunderstorms blossom (explosion of green colors) as the curl enters northern Minnesota toward the end of the animation.



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