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Satellite Cloud Pictures

Satellite cloud photographs are a most valuable aid in locating fronts on a weather map. You should refer to these photographs when initially positioning fronts, lows, troughs, and ridges on the map. Before finalizing the map, you should again compare these pictures with the analysis to ensure that the complete analysis is a consistent, smooth-flowing picture. Keep in mind that satellite pictures present a view from space. This means that features in the lower layers of the atmosphere may be hidden by extensive cloud coverage aloft. While satellite pictures are undoubtedly a tremendous tool, donít fall into the trap of blindly accept-ing them as infallible. They must be viewed in proper context. A picture is another element that must be evaluated before finalizing your analysis. It cannot be overemphasized that you should use all of the tools at your disposal to acquire consistent accuracy in your analyses. Figures 7-3-3 and 7-3-4 illustrate a sequence of events over a 24-hour period. Notice the similarity in the configuration of the clouds and fronts depicted in the analyses and satellite photographs. The low-pressure center is out-lined in the photographs by the spiraling cloud bands. The clear air slot to the rear of the cold front wraps completely around the low, indicating the presence of an occlusion. On 1 June, the organization in the cloud structure is breaking up as the occlusion or dissipating process progresses. The use of these photographs in identifying the cloud bands along the periphery of the storm area is quite evident. 

You must keep in mind the slope of fronts and pressure systems aloft when comparing surface analyses and satellite pictures. Locating surface frontal positions on satellite pictures is somewhat premature at this point. Therefore, this subject will be covered in the "Satellite Imagery Inter-pretation" section of unit 10.

Figure 7-3-3 - Comparison of surface analysis and cloud pictures on 31 May.

Figure 7-3-3 - Comparison of surface analysis and cloud pictures on 1 June.

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