Does everyone just love power outages? They occur at the most inconvenient times, when your cooking dinner, doing work on your home computer or watching the football game. But have you ever experienced a widespread power outage that affected thousands of customers? That’s exactly what happened in Puerto Rico late Wednesday night (21 September 2016) when a fire started near the Aguierre Power Plant located on the southern side of the island. The Power Plant was out of commission and over 1.5 million customers lost power for at least 12 hours. A great percentage of customers still do not have power as of right now (22 September 2016 @ 1750 EDT). The fire was caused by a power-switch that became overheated causing a large mineral oil tank to explode. More information on the incident can be seen via CNN and the Washington Post.
Interestingly enough, one can see the massive power outage over Puerto Rico via polar-orbiting satellite data. The Near-Constant Contrast (NCC), a derived product of the Day/Night Band (DNB) sensor on-board the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) satellite can be utilized to see atmospheric features and emitted lights during the night-time. In this case from Figure 1 and 2 below, we can infer the areas in Puerto Rico that were affected by the power outage (i.e., the decrease in city lights seen from satellite from the 21 September to the 22 September 2016).
Figure 1: The NCC product highlighting the emitted lights from cities and towns on the island of Puerto Rico. The satellite image is taken on 21 September 2016 @ 0627Z before the power outage occurred. The Aguierre Power Plant where the fire first started and took out the power-grid in Puerto Rico is also seen. In the top-right corner of the figure one can see the approximate moon phase of the lunar cycle, where there is a correlation between the distinct satellite imagery and moon phase.
Figure 2: The NCC product shows the decrease an emitted lights from cities and towns on the island of Puerto Rico on 22 September 2016 @ 0608Z after the power outage occurred. In the top-right corner of the figure one can see the approximate moon phase of the lunar cycle.
Ahh…it is that time of year again, it’s hurricane season for the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; the blog will focus on the Atlantic hurricane activity that is ongoing. Two to mention that are active right now are the Invest Area 99L and Tropical Storm Gaston. The current status of both Invest Area/Tropical Storm whereabouts can be seen via the National Hurricane Center website.
Monitoring severe tropical weather events from the range of invest areas, tropical depressions, tropical storms to the order of Category 1-5 hurricanes by National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters can be challenging. Whether if the tropical event is occurring during the day or night, NWS forecasters can utilize satellite products and supplemental products to provide the best forecasts for the general public. One of the big challenges for forecasters is monitoring these events during the night-time. A product to consider is the Near-Constant Contrast (NCC), derived from the Day-Night Band (DNB), a sensor on the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on-board the Suomi-National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) satellite. The NCC has the capability of observing night-time light emissions and atmospheric features across the globe, including monitoring tropical storms.
The following animated gifs below highlight the NCC with infrared (IR) satellite imagery in the early morning near 5Z and 6Z, 26 August, 2016 of Invest Area 99L (Figure 1) and Tropical Storm Gaston (Figure 2), respectively.
Invest Area 99L
Figure 1: The Invest Area 99L is currently hovered over Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea (white circle) and has a 30% chance of formation in the next 48 hours. Within the animation, NCC is shown first depicting the distinct cloud cover of the invest area, and IR shown second showing the brightness temperatures (in degrees Celsius) of the cloud convective tops. If you look closely you can see lightning (horizontal white streaks) embedded in the storm. Cloud cover and city lights are depicted as well.
Tropical Storm Gaston
Figure 2: Tropical Storm Gaston located in the mid-Atlantic Ocean has a chance of becoming a Category One Hurricane within the next 48 hours as well. Within the animation, NCC is shown first depicting the circulation of the tropical storm in the Atlantic, and IR shown second highlighting the brightness temperatures (in degrees Celsius) of the cloud convective tops. Lighting are also seen embedded in the storm while cloud cover and city lights are depicted as well.
Additionally, here are the variety of forecast track model outputs for Invest Area 99L and Tropical Storm Gaston for the next few days.