FOX19 – The first images come from the GOES-16 (formerly GOES-R) weather satellite and they did not disappoint. It compares the first image of GOES-16, taken on January 15, and the first image of GOES-13, taken on June 22, 2006. GOES-13 is still in use, but is expected to be retired after testing and the Validation of GOES-16 ends this fall.
The color versus black and white image is an improvement, but four times the resolution can be an even bigger improvement. This will allow more tiny textures to be seen, giving a more accurate representation of actual cloud cover.
Not only does GOES-16 have much better resolution, but it also scans five times faster than current GOES satellites. This will prove to be a huge advantage during extreme weather situations. Cloud changes occur before precipitation begins to fall, so being able to identify the formation of supercell thunderstorms will lead to earlier warnings of severe weather.
Satellite imagery is also crucial in predicting hurricane intensity. Higher resolution and more frequent imagery will lead to more accurate estimates of the hurricane’s current strength when far from land. This will likely lead to better intensity forecasts.
In addition to increased resolution and speed, other improved instruments on the satellite will also lead to better estimates of precipitation and wind speed. This data will then feed into the computer models used to forecast the weather, which will improve the output.
GOES-16 is also equipped with the first operational lightning mapping tool. Being able to identify where and how much lightning there is will help identify which storms are strengthening and which are weakening.
Although located 22,300 miles above the Earth’s surface, this powerful new tool is perhaps the most important tool in the weather toolkit. It marks a new era of more timely and accurate forecasts and warnings.
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