NOAA satellite captures images of east coast snowstorm

GOES-East, which provides high-definition images to assist weather prediction, arrived in its orbit just last month.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Jan 07, 2018
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) GOES-East weather-monitoring satellite has captured remarkable photos of the huge winter storm that battered the US East Coast on Thursday, January 4.

GOES-East, which monitors the whole Western Hemisphere from a high geostationary orbit, arrived in its position just last month.

Capable of taking detailed, high-definition images of Earth's atmosphere and surface, the satellite is the first in a series designed to help meteorologists track storms and wildfires across the planet.

The next in the series of GOES satellites is scheduled for a March launch.

"For weather forecasters, GOES-R [series, includes GOES-East], will be similar to going from a black-and-white TV to super-high-definition TV," explained Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Services Division.

"For the American public, that will mean more accurate weather forecasts and warnings. That also will mean more lives saved and better environmental intelligence for state and local officials and all decision makers."

NOAA and NASA regularly updated images of the storm on Thursday, depicting its progression throughout the day.

The unusual storm has been classified as a "bomb cyclone," which is a system that intensifies rapidly due to a quick drop in its atmospheric pressure. That drop increases the storm's strength, distributes heavy snow over a large area, and generates winds that can reach hurricane force.

One particularly notable image released by GOES-East is a Geocolor picture of the planet that shows a map of the US in vivid colors, complete with the white spiral clouds of the storm enveloping the East Coast.

"Geocolor is a multispectral product composed of True Color (using a simulated green component) during the daytime, and an infrared product that uses bands 7 and 13 at night," NASA noted in describing an image depicting the storm stretching from Florida to Maine.

"During the day, the imagery looks approximately as it would appear when viewed with human eyes from space."

To emphasize the storm's huge size, another GOES-East image released shows the boundaries of US states as well as those of countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.

"The powerful nor'easter is battering coastal areas with heavy snow and strong winds from Florida to Maine," NASA noted alongside the second image.

"Notice the long line of clouds stretching over a thousand miles south of the storm, which is drawing moisture all the way from deep in the Caribbean."

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