A recent changeover from April to May brought a variety of different weather phenomena- from snow and almost freezing temperatures to sunshine and 80 degrees. A low brought some low-level moisture across the Four Corners region Friday night 29 April 2017. Snow flurries began early Saturday morning with little to no accumulation reported across the city. Higher elevations received up to 12” of snow along the eastern slopes and high northeast. By Sunday afternoon, there was no sign of the previous day’s snowfall and temperatures returned to 65°F.
On the other hand, the first weekend in May consisted of above normal temperatures (in the 82-87°F range), some strong wind gusts, and partly cloudy skies. Although the two GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) infrared (IR) images shown here look similar, one is characteristic of high- or mid-level clouds (left) and one of low-level cumulus clouds (right).
IR imagery can be thought of cloud top temperature/height. In other words, if temperature decreases with height in the atmosphere, clouds with cold cloud-top temperatures can be equated to mid- and high-altitude cloud tops (i.e. cirrus, cumulonimbus, nimbostratus). Having a feathery appearance, these clouds do not appear as “bright” on IR images. Convective clouds that do not have a large vertical extent (like the one shown on the right) contain a lot of cloud droplets, appear brighter, and can have a rugged appearance when sunlight hits the cloud at an angle. These clouds are commonly associated with fair weather.
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© 2017 Meteorologist Sharon Sullivan