NASA will be launching a sounding rocket from Wallops Flight Center on the eastern shore of Virginia if the weather permits. The rocket is called the Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket and it will be allowing scientists to analyze the ionosphere and the aurora. NASA has been attempting lift-off since May 31st and have encountered problems due to the weather. High winds, and cloudiness seem to be the main issues, but boaters in the launch area were a problem as well. Launch attempts have been made three consecutive nights this week, but with clouds in the area and a very small time frame, NASA was forced to scrub the launch until June 16th at 9:05 PM EST. The reason why scientists need a clear night to launch the rocket is because the rocket has 10 small canisters (about the size of a soda can) attached that will deploy into the air to allow scientists to visually track particle motion in space. These canisters will form artificial clouds that can be seen from the ground stations in either Wallops or Duck, North Carolina. Clear skies are required from either of the two stations for a successful launch. Due to the forecast of incoming inclement weather, NASA is taking a two-day break from launching since June 13th was too cloudy at both locations.
The map above shows who will be able to view the colors of the artificial clouds (blue, green and red) versus who will be able to only see the launch. If you are not in the viewing area, however, NASA will be broadcasting live from their NASA TV site approximately 30 minutes prior to launch.
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ⓒ 2017 Meteorologist Brandie Cantrell
Last November, a new weather satellite (GOES-R*), was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Fig. 1). This new space dweller is equipped with modern and powerful instruments, opening numerous possibilities for improved weather analysis and forecasting… To read the full story, click here - http://www.weatherworks.com/lifelong-learning-blog/?p=1307
© 2017 Mayguen Ojeda
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DISCUSSION: For most of the day on May 28, a dreary sky hung over southern New Jersey as a result of winds from the east off of the chilly Atlantic Ocean. As I looked out the window during the evening, I was shocked to see that the monotonous gray sky had been taken over by billowing, wavy features on the bottom of the clouds. These were none other than the breathtaking Undulatus clouds, which were formally recognized as a cloud type by the World Meteorological Organization back in March.
To be more precise, these are Undulatus Asperatus clouds, whose defining features include the wavy motions at the cloud base. The ingredients needed for these clouds to occur are rising air (to help with the formation of overcast skies) and some type of wind shear or turbulence. A developing area of weak low pressure offshore of Virginia Beach at that time may have provided enough of the required rising air motion.
Looking at a sounding would help us check for the second ingredient, wind shear. The sounding below (courtesy of the College of DuPage), is from the initialization of the 00z May 29 GFS model run for Atlantic City, where the cloud picture and video was taken. While the winds change direction with height - from east-southeasterly at the surface to southerly at 850mb - something else caught my eye. The winds actually slow down quite a bit as you move from the surface up to 700mb, where the white circle on the right-hand side indicates that winds were stationary.
Typically, winds increase with height as the force of friction from the ground becomes less apparent. The decrease of the winds with height in this unusual situation may have provided the kind of wind shear necessary for the Undulatus Asperatus to form.
Although the picture and video may look fascinating, trust me when I say that it was much more stunning to be there in person. I truly hope you all have a chance to view these clouds one day!
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© 2017 Meteorologist Jake Spivey