Picture 1. Full-Disk Pacific Water Vapor Channel. February 2, 1998

This full-disk picture of the Pacific hemisphere was taken on February 2, 1998 (Ground Hog's Day!!, so it can be re-lived over and over, a la Bill Murray). Areas that are blue have little water vapor in the upper half of the atmosphere, and areas that are yellow/brown have abundant water vapor. The heavy cloudiness over the equator is unusual and is a feature of El Nino. Fierce storms are about to strike both California and the U.S. Southeast. The winds at 200 mb (about 40,000 feet) are blowing approximately 200 mph across a broad swath of the Pacific just north of Hawaii.

Hawaii is in the middle of a very large area essentially devoid of any significant weather activity. This situation has persisted there for several weeks, and Hilo (SE corner of the Big Island) has just experienced the driest month in its entire (very wet) history.

Picture 2. Northern Hemisphere 200 mb (40,000 feet) Winds, February 1-2, 1998

This shows the winds at 200 mb, 40,000 feet above the surface, averaged over February 1-2, 1998. Two very powerful storms are in progress in California and in Florida, both augmented by El Nino. Top winds shown are over 90 meters/second, or about 200 mph. During this time aircraft measurements west of Monterey California were indicating highest gusts at this level in the vicinity of 250 knots, or 285 mph, close to the highest non-tornado winds ever recorded in the troposphere.

Picture 3. Hawaii from Satellite, Visible, January 30, 1998, 1830 GMT (10:30 am HST)

Little or no precipitation is present. Hawaii almost has very interesting cloud behavior in its vicinity.

Picture 4. Hawaii from Satellite, Visible, January 31, 1998, 1930 GMT (11:30 am HST)

Another example. Visible satellite channel. Hawaiian Islands.

Kelly Redmond
Western Regional Climate Center