DISCUSSION: There is no question that as atmospheric and climate science entered the 21st century, atmospheric observations took on a whole new meaning with a state-of-the-art approach to how and why things are done. One such example to prove this point is regarding the extent to which the GOES-16 satellite imager blew away the atmospheric and climate science community in terms of its unique ability to observe the most recent powerful coastal storm which caught the attention of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coastal regions.
A perfect example of how the GOES-16 satellite imager stunned the entire meteorological world was in the context of this satellite’s ability to view the lightning occurring in association with this most recent coastal storm which rapidly intensified just offshore from the North Carolina coastline. More specifically, as GOES-16 watched the system developed both in the vicinity of the coastline and then just offshore from the North Carolina coastline, there was substantial lightning coverage which expanded within and near the center of the system’s core circulation as well as along the progressing cold front. What was most impressive was the extent of the detail which was provided by the GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) imaging platform.
What was most impressive was the fact that during the 120-minute footage clip of the GLM in action, there were even some moments where there appeared to be semi-symmetric lightning bursts in the center of the core circulation. This is a phenomenon which is often found in association with near-perfectly symmetric and very intense (and often mature) tropical cyclones. This finding proved that even though this extra-tropical cyclone developed rapidly just offshore from the U.S. East Coast, it did attain radar-based structure in the context of its precipitation which somewhat resembled a hybrid hurricane. This is a finding which is most common to be seen in association with rapidly intensifying low-pressure systems (i.e., in non-tropical situations) since when extra-tropical cyclones rapidly intensify, they can often take on characteristic appearances resembling low-end intensity tropical cyclones from a precipitation-based standpoint as far as regional Doppler radar observations are concerned. This structural resemblance occurs as a result of such rapidly intensifying systems quickly wrapping up and becoming more tightly-wrapped and more powerful low-pressure systems.
Thus, this case and point just goes to show that the atmosphere can produce quite impressive displays when the right conditions and circumstances are in place.
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© 2019 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz