An immaculate mid-latitude cyclone and its decay

Behold one of the most beautiful satellite views of a mid-latitude cyclone you will ever see, courtesy NASA (taken Monday).

From NASA: When the Aqua satellite passed overhead Monday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. EDT (Sept. 26) a detailed, clear image was captured from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument ( NASA )

The image highlights a mid-latitude cyclone at its most mature stage - a storm in its prime. Meteorologist Justin Berk, on his Facebook page, offered a nice description:

This is the last stage in the life of a mature cyclone/storm. In our part of the world, cold air eventually wins out and wraps completely around a storm. This is called a ‘cold core’ storm and has cut itself off from the main flow of the jet stream. That is why it is wandering-almost stalled near Chicago.

Water vapor image of cyclone centered just west of Chicago Monday evening. (hat tip: Stu Ostro) (Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies )

The water vapor image above is a close-up of the same storm (also from yesterday), and wonderfully shows off its structure. But - at the same time - the cold, dry air (in yellow) so prominently wrapping into the storm in this image forbodes its demise.

GOES infrared satellite image taken Tuesday morning. (NASA)

For all of us, from the Upper Midwest to the East Coast, cast under the cloudy, damp grip of this lumbering, sprawling cyclone, I’m sure few tears will be shed once it’s gone.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.


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