A new weather satellite will soon be launched, what this means for future forecasts

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RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – In just under a month, the newest weather satellite will be launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

It’s about the size of a small school bus, weighs around 6,000 pounds, and will be a game-changer for anyone dealing with the weather.

It’s called GOES-T and it’s the third in a series of four new weather satellites, first launched in November 2016.

Once in orbit, it changes its name slightly to GOES-18 as it will be the 18th weather satellite in the entire GOES mission.

GOES, or Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, orbit more than 22,000 miles above the Earth at the same rotational speed of the Earth, which means the satellite stays in the same place in the sky and has a constant image of the same place on the floor.

The GOES mission began in 1975 with the first satellites only getting views of Earth about 10% of the time.

Almost 50 years later, Dr. Jim Yoe of the National Weather Service explains that better technology means better data.

“In 1975 it was kind of a ‘wow’, now the picture is more about how? How do we use that data?”

So why do we care about another weather satellite? Because it shows us more than cloud cover.

“We’re really getting a more integrated use of our information,” Yoe explained. “We call them environmental satellites, not just weather satellites.”

With improved satellite technology, our predictions of everything from fog to wildfires to hurricanes are improving and we will be able to better prevent the dangers of lightning and tornadoes.

This means that the forecast for you is improving.

“People can use this data, the information from the satellites to make informed and effective decisions for themselves personally, for their business or for their communities,” Yoe said.

GOES-T will be operational in early 2023 and will operate until the 2030s. By then, the next generation of weather satellites will be ready to continue operating almost 50 years ago.

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