River valley fog developed over Pennsylvania during the early morning hours of 18 August 2014, and the case is a good test of the GOES-R IFR Probability fields. IFR Probabilities are low at 0500 UTC (1 AM local time) and subsequently increase rapidly. In this case, the fields may be overpredicting where fog is present, as visible imagery just after sunrise suggest it was confined mostly to river valleys. In the animation above, the areal extent of the IFR Probabilities drops between 1100 UTC and 1215 UTC as the sun rises (the terminator is apparent in the 1100 UTC image, running from western Maryland north-northwestward to extreme western New York) and visible imagery can be used to more effectively cloud-clear the fields. A toggle between these two times is below. In this case, it is important to understand the geography underneath the IFR Probability field to hone the forecast.
The Brightness Temperature Difference field, above, is the heritage method of detecting low stratus and inferring the presence of fog. Interpretation is complicated because high clouds (initially present over the southwestern portion of the scene, and moving eastward) prevent the satellite from viewing low clouds. In addition, as the sun rises (at the end of the animation, at 1100 UTC), solar radiation changes the character of the the brightness temperature difference field.
Data from the MODIS on board both Terra and Aqua can also be used to create both brightness temperature difference fields and IFR Probability fields. The toggle below, using ~0700 UTC data from GOES and from MODIS, shows the distinct advantage present in the MODIS field’s superior spatial resolution (1-km at sub-satellite point vs. 4-km at the sub-satellite point for GOES). River valleys are more evident in the MODIS data, by far, than in the GOES data.
The Day-Night band on Suomi NPP at 0718 UTC showed that the densest fog was largely confined to river valleys.
An animation of the fog burning off from GOES-14 (in special 1-minute SRSO-R scanning operations) is available here. It’s also on YouTube.