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NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)

GOES-16 Lightning Mapper Animations



NOAA’s GOES-S and GOES-T Satellites Coming Together

August 14, 2017

This time lapse movie shows widespread individual thunderstorms mushrooming in the Amazon basin on the afternoon and evening of Thursday, August 10th, 2017. At the end of the movie, horizontally extensive lightning flashes in the evening can be observed across the tops of the mature and long-lived electrified clouds. This imagery was taken by GOES-16's lightning mapper.

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GOES-16's Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) Captured Electrifying Imagery of the Lightning

May 3, 2017

GOES-16's Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) captured this electrifying imagery of the lightning associated with the recent severe weather over the Mississippi Valley and southern Plains this past weekend. (The animation begins at approximately noon on Friday, April 28, 2017, and ends at midnight on Saturday, April, 29.)

According to a variety of media reports, the storms caused the deaths of at least 13 people, produced widespread heavy rain resulting in flash floods, high winds that down trees and left thousands without power, a late-season blizzard in Kansas, and several tornadoes.

GLM observes total lightning, including in-cloud and cloud to ground lightning, and will continually observe lightning flashes day and night across the Western Hemisphere. Of particular note in this animation is the horizontal propagation of lightning flashes occurring behind the line of intense storms. Rapid increases of lightning are a signal that a storm is strengthening and could become more dangerous. GLM, in concert with other forecaster tools, will help provide more accurate and earlier warnings of developing severe storms and give communities more time to prepare for impending severe weather.

This animation appears here courtesy of Lockheed Martin, which built the GLM. To learn more about the instrument and how it will improve the forecasting of dangerous weather, go to

Please note: GOES-16 data are currently experimental and under-going testing and hence should not be used operationally.

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Flashy First Images Arrive from NOAA’s GOES-16 Lightning Mapper

Satellite’s instrument will help forecasters pinpoint severe storms sooner

March 6, 2017

Detecting and predicting lightning just got a lot easier. The first images from a new instrument onboard NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite are giving NOAA National Weather Service forecasters richer information about lightning that will help them alert the public to dangerous weather.

The first lightning detector in a geostationary orbit, the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), is transmitting data never before available to forecasters. The mapper continually looks for lightning flashes in the Western Hemisphere, so forecasters know when a storm is forming, intensifying and becoming more dangerous. Rapid increases of lightning are a signal that a storm is strengthening quickly and could produce severe weather.

During heavy rain, GLM data will show when thunderstorms are stalled or if they are gathering strength. When combined with radar and other satellite data, GLM data may help forecasters anticipate severe weather and issue flood and flash flood warnings sooner. In dry areas, especially in the western United States, information from the instrument will help forecasters, and ultimately firefighters, identify areas prone to wildfires sparked by lightning.

Lightning data captured on February 14, 2017
This image shows lightning data captured on February 14, 2017 over the course of an hour and displayed over an image of the Western Hemisphere from the Advanced Baseline Imager on GOES-16. Brighter colors indicate more lightning energy was recorded; color bar units are the calculated kilowatt-hours of total optical emissions from lightning. The brightest storm system is located over the Gulf Coast of Texas, the same storm system in the accompanying video. 

Accurate tracking of lightning and thunderstorms over the oceans, too distant for land-based radar and sometimes difficult to see with satellites, will support safe navigation for aviators and mariners.

The new mapper also detects in-cloud lightning, which often occurs five to 10 minutes or more before potentially deadly cloud-to-ground strikes. This means more precious time for forecasters to alert those involved in outdoor activities of the developing threat. 

Learn more about GOES-16 and all its exciting possibilities for weather forecasting improvements by visiting the GOES-16 website.

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