GOES-R IFR Probability fields showed large values over parts of Kentucky and Tennessee during the overnight hours on 16-17 February 2016, as shown in the animation above (every 2 hours from 0115 through 1315 UTC). (IFR or near-IFR Conditions were present over the region of enhanced IFR Probabilities) For much of the overnight hours, mid-level and high clouds prevented an unobstructed satellite view of low clouds, so Rapid Refresh model output was the principle driver in IFR Probabilities. When that happens, the character of the IFR Probability field is less pixelated (it’s a flatter field) and values are smaller. At the end of the animation — 1315 UTC — satellite observations of low clouds have improved and the GOES-R IFR Probability field is (1) more pixelated, as expected when satellite data are used and (2) showing higher values because Satellite Predictors can be used in the computation of IFR Probability.
MODIS data from Terra and Aqua satellites can also be used to compute IFR Probability fields, and the high spatial resolution of the MODIS instrument (1-km vs. nominal 4-km on GOES) can yield superior results for valley fogs, for example (The effects of some rivers are apparent in the 0354 UTC image over western Tennessee, for example). For a large-scale event as above, however, GOES-based resolutions can be adequate. The toggle of MODIS-based GOES-R IFR Probabilities at 0354 UTC and 0810 UTC is shown below. Patchy clouds (that prevent MODIS from viewing low clouds) are more apparent in the 0354 UTC image than in the 0810 UTC image.
Suomi NPP Overflew the Tennessee River valley just after midnight local time, and the toggle of the Day Night band and the Brightness Temperature Difference field (11.45 – 3.74) is shown below. Extensive cloud cover is apparent. The importance of the IFR Probability fields is that it incorporates surface information (from the Rapid Refresh predictions of saturation in the lowest 1000 feet of the model atmosphere) so that fog and low stratus that impacts transportation by reducing visibilities can be distinguished from mid-level stratus that has a smaller impact.