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GOES S satellite launches to improve forecasting

It is a big day for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and all meteorologists. The GOES S satellite is the NEXT STEP in improving weather forecasting.

GOES S is the same type of satellite as GOES 16, which we have been using to provide high definition imagery of the United States since late 2016. GOES 16 finally became operational in December, and covers the continental United States, all the way east to the coast of Africa.  GOES S, once operational, will be called GOES 17, and it will cover the west coast of the U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and all of the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand!  Together, as a dynamic duo,  these satellites will provide us data for the majority of the western hemisphere!

The GOES 16 has proved to be an invaluable tool throughout this past year, especially during hurricane season. Meteorologists used the high resolution imagery to watch the lightning and the eye wall of Hurricane Maria. You could see lightning increasing, and the clouds in the eyewall bubbling, showing the intensification of the hurricane as it tracked through the Caribbean towards Puerto Rico and the United States. It also gave us information about the speed, rainfall rates, wind patterns and future track, helping the National Weather Service know when and where to put out warnings.

It will be a game changer to have this same technology over the Pacific Ocean.  Since data updates every 30 seconds, we can see detailed weather systems developing in real time. All weather systems in the United States come from the west, so now we will be able to watch the weather developing, in high resolution, right at the source.

With GOES 17, meteorologists will be able to anticipate the next big storm system to hit the west coast, determine if an “atmospheric river” is setting up to bring heavy rainfall to the States, spot the start of a wildfire faster, track sea ice and snow cover in Alaska, and most importantly, issue evacuations and warnings earlier.


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