Forecasting lightning

July 15th, 2021 |

Lightning safety is important for aircraft, mariners, and many outdoor activities. CIMSS is working to evaluate a model that nowcasts lightning. This model was trained using GOES-16 ABI visible, near-infrared, and long-wave infrared channels, as well as GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) observations. It predicts the probability of lightning (IC or CG, as observed by GLM) in the next 60 minutes at any given point. The model routinely provides lead-time to lightning initiation of 20 minutes or more. We’re hopeful that one day such a model will help forecasters provide guidance for aviators, mariners, and decision support services (DSS) for things like sporting events, festivals, and theme parks. Near-real-time model output can be viewed using SSEC’s RealEarth.

Below are a few examples, with the forecast lightning probability contoured over the daytime cloud phase RGB and GOES-16 GLM flash-extent density.

So this summer, whether you’re going to the South Carolina beach,

or sailing in the Gulf of Maine,

or hiking in the Rocky Mountains,

or catching the first MLB game in Iowa,

be on the lookout for lightning!

“Ring” Solar eclipse shadow moving across northern North America

June 10th, 2021 |

Early on June 10th, 2021 there was a solar eclipse for the northern portions of the globe. This was not a total, but annular (or “ring”) solar eclipse. Satellite instruments, such as NOAA’s ABI on GOES-16 (East) can monitor the shadow of the moon as it falls on the Earth. There are several recent examples from December 2020 (South America), June 2020 (southern Asia), December 2019 (central Pacific), July 2019 (southern hemisphere), January 2019 (Asia) and August 2017 (central US).


The shadow cast on the Earth could be seen from NOAA’s GOES-16 (East) ABI. This included both the visible and near-infrared spectral bands, and the ABI band 7 (at 3.9 micrometers).

A time animation of NOAA’s GOES-16 ABI band 3 (0.86 micrometers) on June 10, 2021.
A time animation of the cooling associated wit the shadow on the Earth’s surface can be seen in this GOES-16 ABI band 7 (3.9 micrometers) animation.
A time animation of the Full Disk view showing the CIMSS true color spectral composite on June 10, 2021. This product does not employ a Rayleigh correction.

There are other similar loops are posted on many web pages, such as this one from UW/SSEC. This page is a collection of those links.

The 10 UTC composite Full Disk GOES-16 image from June 10, 2021.

A larger image of the GOES-16 10 UTC Full Disk composite shown above.

The shadow from the moon could also been seen from NOAA’s GOES-17 (West) ABI on June 10, 2021.

A more zoomed in GOES-17 view.

AWIPS animation (mp4) of the CIMSS Natural Color RGB from both GOES-16 and GOES-17.

The same loop as above, but as an animated gif. Thanks to Scott.

Japan’s AHI

Japan’s AHI near-infared (band 4 centered at 0.86 micrometers) imagery on June 10, 2021.

While it’s subtle, the shadow could also be seen in Japan’s AHI.

HEO (highly elliptical orbit)

A satellite was recently launched by Russia into a highly elliptical orbit (Molniya). The satellite (Arctica) is in a commissioning phase, but some imagery from the 10-band imager of the eclipse shadow was released.

Google translation: An annular happened today #???????? Suns — For the first time in half a century, it was accessible for observation from Russia; it was best seen from Yakutia and Chukotka. Russian satellites #??????? and #???????? were able to capture this astronomical phenomenon from orbit.

Ground-based Image

A image from Chris Draves over Lake Mendota (Madison, WI).


This map of the eclipse path shows where the June 10, 2021, annular and partial solar eclipse will occur. Times are UTC.
Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Ernie Wright.


NOAA GOES-16 ABI data are via the University of Wisconsin-Madison SSEC Satellite Data Services. Thanks Scott Bachmeier, CIMSS for the AWIPS animation.

1984: Carolinas Tornado Outbreak

March 29th, 2021 |

NOAA’s GOES-5 VISSR view of a historical outbreak in the Carolina’s in 1984. March 28th and 29th, 1984 saw one of the most destructive tornado events in the history of North and South Carolina.

Infrared Loop:

GOES-5 Infrared imagery from 12:00 UTC to 23:30 UTC on March 28, 1984.

The coldest clouds appear as darker shades of red. A regional scale IR loop.

Visible Loop:

GOES-5 visible imagery from 12:00 UTC to 23:30 UTC on March 28, 1984.

A more zoomed-in visible loop over the same time range.

H/T Melissa Griffin for reminding us of this case:

More background on this case in 1984 was posted by the NWS Willmington office:

A combined visible and infrared GOES-5 Full Disk image from March 28, 1984 at 21 UTC.

A larger Full Disk “sandwich” image.

NOAA GOES-5 data are via the University of Wisconsin-Madison SSEC Satellite Data Services.

Satellite signature of the Falcon 9 re-entry

March 26th, 2021 |

GOES-17 Band 7 (3.9 µm) imagery at 03:58:27, 03:59:27 and 04:00:27 on 26 March 2021 (Click to enlarge)

The Falcon 9 rocket that was launched on 4 March did not achieve orbit and re-entered the atmosphere on 26 March at just before 0400 UTC (Correction:  Falcon 9 achieved orbit.  What did not occur as planned was the 2nd stage de-orbit burn  The low orbit of the 2nd stage allowed it to re-enter on 26 March, and that is what GOES-17 detected.  Thanks to Mark — see his comment bel0w —  for the correction!)  GOES-17’s ABI detected the re-entry heat signature off the coast of Oregon, at the very edge of the Mesoscale Sector 1, at 03:59:27 on 26 March 2021, as shown above in the Band 7 (3.9 µm) images at 03:58:27, 03:59:27 and 04:00:27. The heat signature was also detectable in the Band 6 (2.2 µm) imagery.

Many thanks to Chris Schmidt, CIMSS, for finding this subtle signature in the imagery!  This tweet from Jonathan McDowell includes many ground-based video captures of the re-entry.

The image below, from Tim Schmit (NOAA/STAR), shows the three band 7 (3.9 µm) images, color-enhanced and magnified.  A similar image for band 6 (2.2 µm) is here.

GOES-17 ABI Band 3.9 µm imagery (Mesoscale Sector 1) at 0358 UTC (top), 0359 UTC (middle) and 0400 UTC (bottom) (click to enlarge)

Scott Bachmeier created this 6-channel (Bands 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 at 0.64 µm, 0.86µm, 1.37 µm, 1.61 µm, 2.25 µm and 3.9 µm, respectively) 3-step animation centered on the re-entry time.