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Posted at 10:48 AM ET, 09/27/2011

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)
And indeed, the satellite imagery this morning shows a cyclone a shell of its previous self. The supply of warm moist air which had fed the storm has largely cutoff. And the system will continue to decay over the next couple of days before it gets absorbed by the jet stream and spirited away.

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.

By  |  10:48 AM ET, 09/27/2011

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