GPM flying over Earth with a data swath visualized.

GCPEx Flight Summaries

Summary will be updated on Fridays through the remainder of the campaign.

Latest Update: 2/29/12


Date: February 25

Time: 1600 UTC

Event Type: Lake Effect

Aircraft: DC-8

Summary: The DC-8 flew home to Dryden Research Flight Center (DRFC) along some points that intersected with light orographic snows in New England and Lake Effect Snows in New York State.  The DC-8 intersected snow over the White Mountains near Berlin and Green Mountains south of Rutland before vectoring near Utica, NY, crossing a Lake Effect Snow band southeast of Syracuse, and then traversing just north of a band across the Finger Lakes to just south of Buffalo. Due to ATC issues and the band shifting quickly southward, it was difficult to vector the DC-8 directly along the band. The DC-8 then proceeded down the long axis of Lake Erie and intersected some nascent Lake Effect bands north of Cleveland on the transit back to DRFC.

Date: February 24

Time: 1050-1920 UTC

Event Type: Synoptic snow

Aircraft: DC-8, Convair, and Citation

Summary: All three aircraft were operated  over a period of approximately 8 hours (DC-8, Citation and Convai, with Citation completing two full missions), sampling a large variety of precipitation types of various phases and rates over a wide area of the Northeast and over the CARE site.   The DC-8 sampled a band in Eastern NY and then headed directly to CARE where snow was becoming moderate by 1120 UT. They flew dogone patterns first with the Citation, and later with the Convair.  The Citation and Convair flew sprirals and dogbones over CARE, then Huronia and lastly over the Georgian Bay.  The event featured rapidly moving convective, banded features with small, deep turrets that were difficult to sample repeatedly with the aircraft.  These features contained patches of light to heavy snow. Multiple satellite overpasses occurred coincident with the aircraft sampling.  The DC-8 closed out sampling by collecting data over heavy mixed phase precipitation over and along Lake Ontario, followed by a transect to the north of the lake while in route to Bangor (heavy to moderate snow).Date: February 21


Date: February 21st

Time:  1800-2100 UTC

Event Type: Synoptic snow

Aircraft: DC-8, Convair, and Citation

Summary: The DC-8 and Convair sampled a fast moving warm frontal band that produced little accumulation at the CARE site, but some moderate snow elsewhere in the flight boxes and over Lake Ontario. At the beginning of the mission, a fast moving line of precipitation entered the region from the SSW and brought some light falling snow precipitation to the CARE site. The weather moved north, and the Citation was sent north to Huronia around 1940 Z, and did another 3 nm radius spiral over the Huronia site around 20 UTC


Date: February 20

Time: 1400-1610 UTC

Event Type: Clear air flight

Aircraft: DC-8

Summary: The DC-8 flew a clear air flight to get background measurements. Clouds were few or non-existent over the survey area.


Date: February 18

Time: 0950-1230, 1550-1800 UTC

Event Type: Synoptic snowfall

Aircraft: Citation

Summary: Today’s mission featured a heavy snow event over the CARE operations area.  The timing of the event was well captured by the forecasts, however the intensity was surprisingly heavy.  The Citation flown in back to back flights exclusively in spirals over the long duration event.  In coordination with D3R and King City radar sampling over the CARE, Steamshow, and Skydive sites, the event featured greater than 1 inch per hour snowfall rates, and total storm accumulations of 14 cm over the CARE site (with 10-14 mm of liquid equivalent).  This dataset should provide for an excellent view of the microphysics of heavy snow with embedded layers of high liquid water content  greater than 1 g/kg sampled by the aircraft probes and estimated by the ground microwave radiometers. Overall, during this ~6 inches snowfall the atmosphere was well sampled by the aircraft at all altitudes under 15 kft (Figure 14), with varying liquid water contents in the profiles.  This should make for good comparisons with several satellite overpasses during the mission.


Date: February 16

Time: 1430-1830 UTC

Event Type: synoptic snowfall with cyclone

Aircraft: DC-8 and Citation and Convair

Summary: Today's event featured a cyclone that split as it entered southern Ontario, however we were able to sample both the northern portion north of CARE early in the event, and the southern portion over Lake Ontario with coordinated flight patterns.  The cyclone arrived at the CARE site about 4 hours earlier than forecast (10 Z), and featured a mix of precipitation types at the surface sampled well by the ground instrumentation.  Aircraft sampling began at 1430 Z, after the precipitation stopped at the southern ground sites, but during precipitation at Huronia, which concluded around 1630 UTC.  This precipitation over the north end of the A1 box was sampled for about an hour by both the DC-8 and Citation (including 2 spirals).  Sampling then shifted to over Lake Ontario around 1730 UTC, when the DC-8 made a pass over the long axis of the lake, followed by the Convair making a pass over the Lake, with sampling at various altitudes, especially over the eastern part of the lake.  The DC-8 reported a descending freezing level over the region, with cloud tops around 5 km according to the APR-2.  Overall, the weather could have been more cooperated, but we did manage to sample a variety of precipitation intensities and phases.


Date: February 14

Time: 1700-1945 UTC

Event Type: Light synoptic snowfall

Aircraft: Citation

Summary: Despite a marginal forecast at best, we went ahead with a Citation-only microphysics flight, targeting four distinct satellite overpasses of NOAA-19 (2), Soumi NPP, and NOAA-18 between 17Z and 1945Z this afternoon.  Fortunately conditions turned out considerably better than the models suggested and light snow fell throughout the operations area for most of the duration of the flight.  Between 0.5 inches and 1 inches of snow fell at CARE. Measurable snow also fell at the Skydive and Steamshow sites during the mission.


Date: February 12 (Sunday late / Monday early)

Time: 2330-0145 UTC

Event Type:  Lake Effect

Aircraft:  DC-8 and Citation

Summary: The DC-8 and Citation sampled the last of the lake effect bands from Saturday-Sunday event moving through the area.  The snow was not as intense as we had hoped but we got several transects with the DC-8 along exactly the same track with the Citation underneath that should give us a chance to see how the surface emissivity has changed after the heavy snow yesterday.  The Citation also reported icing conditions at the north end of the track so it will be interesting to see the signature of supercooled water above the snow surface and watch it evolve as the last snow bands transitioned to clouds.


Date: February 10/11 (Saturday late / Sunday early)

Time:  0100- 0600 UTC Sunday

Event Type:  Lake Effect

Aircraft:  DC-8, Convair, and Citation

Summary:  The first three-aircraft mission of the experiment executed coordinated sampling of light to intense lake effect bands that stretched northwest to southeast from over the water of the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron to over and northwest of the CARE facility.  The heaviest snow fell to the north and northwest of CARE with reported amounts reaching approximately 16 inches in Barrie and 20 inches further northwest.  CARE received ~2 inches.  The Convair and DC-8 coordinated first, with the DC-8 flying over the Convair while the Convair executed spirals through the clouds.  The Convair returned to base near 0330 UTC and Citation took over. The Citation flew spirals over Huronia (light snow) and stepped legs in the more intense portion of the band.   The bands of snow were sampled over both water and land.

Date: February 10

Time:  1900-2200 UTC

Event Type: Synoptic snowfall

Aircraft: Convair

Summary: The Canadian Convair plane flew through the light snowfall event during the evening. CARE was in a part of the storm clear of snowfall until 2100 when a light and persistent snow fell, with an accumulation of less than half an inch.


Date: February 6-7 (Monday late / Tuesday early)

Time: 0200-0330 UTC

Event Type: Synoptic snowfall/ lake effect snow

Aircraft: DC-8

Summary: A synoptic snow event was forecast, but the snow event was very spotty and the synoptic system did not develop as expected. The DC-8 returned to Bangor, early.


Date: February 4

Time: 1500-1800 UTC

Event Type: Clear air

Aircraft: DC-8

Summary: The DC-8 planned to fly a clear air flight to gather background data over the land surface, however, low level clouds off of Lake Huron/Georgian Bay made that impossible. The DC-8 did gather data over Lake Ontario en route to the CARE site.


Date: January 29-30th

Time: 2330-0230 UTC

Event Type: Synoptic moderate snowfall/bands

Aircraft: DC-8 and Citation

Summary: The DC-8 and Citation sampled a light to moderate snowfall event that deposited 2-3 centimeters of snow while the aircraft were over the site.


Date: January 28

Time: 1600-1900 UTC

Event Type: Synoptic Snowfall

Aircraft: DC-8 and Citation

Summary: A widespread snowfall event occurred of about 3-6 centimeters of light to moderate snow. Both the DC-8 and Citation flew in the late afternoon and evening. A lake effect band of precipitation occurred over Huronia to the north, which the planes also sampled.


Date: January 27

Time: 0100-0500 UTC

Event Type: Cold/Freezing Rain

Aircraft: DC-8 and Citation

Summary: Strong winds of 167 knots characterized the storm system of light precipitation (rain/mixed phase). On the ground, rain, freezing rain and ice pellets were observed. Both planes landed before heavier precipitation began.


Date: January 21

Time: 1915-2015 UTC

Event Type:  Land surface/Water Calibration/light snow band

Aircraft: DC-8

Summary: The DC-8 flew a clear-air flight to measure background data over land and collect calibration data over the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. The weather over land was clear with the exception of a few scattered clouds. Over the Georgian Bay there was one patch of cloud on the west side and a small band of light snow showers sitting on the southeast shoreline (snow showers were evident on the King City radar). The light snow moved toward the CARE site and the DC-8 measured it when it arrived as sampling progressed.


Date: January 19

Time: 1500-1800 UTC

Event Type:  Synoptic snowfall

Aircraft: DC-8 and Citation

Summary: Both the DC-8 and the Citation flew a synoptic (broad) precipitation system. They captured the onset of the snowfall and the transition to more steady moderate to light snowfall. As the afternoon progressed the broad snow system turned into localized bands of heavy snow squalls.