Meteorologists excited about next generation GOES-16 satellite

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – With new images beamed back every day, meteorologists are excited about what’s to come with the new GOES-16 weather satellite.

“The technology we had before, you could say it was like a black and white TV,” explained David Glenn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport. “The technology that we have up there now is more equivalent to an HD color TV.”

Glenn and other meteorologists at the National Weather Service are getting new images every day from the new GOES-16 weather satellite. Along with higher resolution, the satellite also packs a host of new tools.

“We’re going to be able to see a lot more about systems as they cross and impact our area than we’ve been able to see in the past,” said Glenn.

One of the biggest upgrades: the new satellite is able to detect lightning within a storm.

“You can see the pattern, where and when and how often lightning is flashing in real time,” said Tom Rickenbach, an atmospheric science professor at ECU. “And that’s exciting because with that information, a forecaster can determine for example what part of that weather system might produce severe weather.”

The new satellite will also be able to help with winter storms like the blizzard affecting the Northeast.

“Estimates of the temperature and the humidity structure of the atmosphere, almost in real time not just for the region right in front of that storm but for the area all surrounding it during the event and well prior to the event,” said Rickenbach. “Hand that data off to computer forecast models to do a better job of forecasting the precise track of that storm.”

The images coming in from the GOES-16 satellite are considered preliminary and not for operational use. The satellite will stay in this status through at least May 2017 before becoming operational.

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