Classic Cloud Streets Observed off the Southeast United States Coast (credit: NOAA GOES-16 Satellite)
DISCUSSION: Over the past 48 to 72 hours, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States have experienced the brunt of a potent Nor'easter. More specifically, this powerful winter storm slammed those areas with strong winds, heavy precipitation (with some locations receiving rain or snow depending on the progress of the storm itself as well as a given location's proximity to the coastal sectors). In addition, closer to the coast, this storm unleashed incredibly large and persistent wave action which ultimately led to major coastal erosion/damage in cities such as (but certainly not limited to) Scituate, Massachusetts where there was tremendous infrastructural damage. Thus, this storm effectively devastated many coastal towns and cities which in some cases may take days or even weeks to fully recover.
Having said that, in the wake of this recent coastal storm's passage, the nation is simply left with scenic low/mid-level satellite imagery containing features most commonly referred to as cloud streets across a good portion of the far Western Atlantic Ocean. Cloud streets are long-distance cloud features which develop as a direct result of cold air moving over relatively long-distances of warmer water (i.e., generally distances of at least 50 to 100 nautical miles). During this process, the colder air parcels are modified by the warmer water they are moving over (in this particular case being the passage of the colder air over the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream off the East Coast of the United States). As these colder air parcels are modified by the warmer water, the air parcels condense into low-level clouds which naturally undergo rising motion due to the warmer air parcels rising higher up into the atmosphere. These low/mid-level clouds move in an outward direction in accordance with the prevailing wind direction in the lowest levels of the atmosphere. Thereby, producing what is visibly observed as cloud streets on both visible and infrared satellite imagery channels.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz