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Thursday, June 25, 2015

NOAA satellite experts and weather forecasters are working together at the Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) in Norman, Oklahoma, to prepare to use data from the GOES-R satellite to improve short-range hazardous weather forecasts and warning decision-making. From May 4 to June 12 (during the height of severe weather season), NOAA invited National Weather Service forecasters and paired them with TV broadcast meteorologists to evaluate the new science, technology and products that will be available from GOES-R once it is launched in 2016.

The video shows the GOES-14 visible one-minute imagery showing the evolution of a tornado over Eastern Colorado on June 4‒5, 2015. Credit: NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Each week of the experiment, researchers and forecasters worked side-by-side to evaluate new products and tools and participated in experimental forecast and warning generation exercises. This approach prepares weather forecasters to use the new capabilities that will be available from NOAA’s next generation of geostationary weather satellites, the GOES-R series. 

NOAA’s current GOES-14 satellite was brought out of storage-mode in its central orbit and operated in Super Rapid Scan Operations (SRSO) mode, providing special one-minute satellite imagery that simulates the capabilities that will be available with the GOES-R series satellites. 

Participating forecasters found the GOES-R severe weather products and one-minute imagery very helpful when evaluating potential storms and issuing warnings. Holly Obermeier, meteorologist with KETV-TV in Omaha, Nebraska, is excited about the lightning data that will be available from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, the first instrument of its kind flown in geostationary orbit. “Having total lightning is an exciting step and I’m really looking forward to having this data. It’s an excellent on-air visual that viewers can easily understand,” she said.

John Boyer, meteorologist at KOKI-TV in Tulsa, Oklahoma, summed up his experience, “I'm very grateful for my HWT experience. I'm confident in the value of GOES-R and how to work that information into better knowledge of storms. Going forward, the rich, detailed visible animations will be an essential, compelling part of the weather story.” 

GOES-R is slated to launch in 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Once launched, the satellite will be known as GOES-16 and will immediately be placed in a test location at 89.5 degrees West longitude for an extended checkout period. During post-launch testing and validation, the GOES-R satellite will provide observations throughout the 2016 hurricane season. At the conclusion of checkout, the satellite will be placed into either the East (75 degrees West) or West (137 degrees West) location depending on the health and performance of the other GOES satellites in NOAA’s constellation.

Holly Obermeier, meteorologist at KETV-TV in Omaha, Nebraska, issues a tornado warning after utilizing the GOES-R ProbSevere product. Credit: Holly Obermeier
Holly Obermeier, meteorologist at KETV-TV in Omaha, Nebraska, issues a tornado warning after utilizing the GOES-R ProbSevere product. Credit: Holly Obermeier

The GOES-R Series Program is a collaborative effort between NOAA and NASA to develop, deploy and operate the next-generation of geostationary environmental satellites. The GOES-R series satellites will provide continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere and space weather monitoring to provide critical atmospheric, hydrologic, oceanic, climatic, solar and space data. GOES-R products will improve hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, increase thunderstorm and tornado warning lead time, improve aviation flight route planning, provide data for long-term climate variability studies, improve solar flare warnings for communications and navigation disruptions and enhance space weather monitoring.

For more information about the GOES-R Series Program and the science behind the satellites, visit www.goes-r.gov. For more information about the GOES-R Proving Ground at NOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed, visit http://goesrhwt.blogspot.com/. Access GOES-14 SRSOR imagery at http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/srsor2015/GOES-14_SRSOR.html