Texas Forecasters to Benefit from New Eye in Sky

A state-of-the-art weather satellite that captures and maps lighting strikes is sending back its first images this week. It’s expected to become a sharper and speedier eye in the sky for improving the accuracy of forecasts.

The technology will also be a useful tool for Texas meteorologists who are watching storms coming in from the west and hurricanes brewing out in the gulf.

The new feature — called the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series, or GOES-R – is the first of four such satellites that are essentially the first full upgrade of the nation’s weather-satellite network in two decades.

The satellite’s maker, Lockheed Martin, has likened the effort to “going from standard-definition TV to high-definition TV” – offering image resolution that’s four times what was previously captured, sent at five faster speed.

GOES-R is able to:

– Map lightning worldwide.

– Reduce the lead time for tornado warnings by up to five to 10 minutes.

– Provide cloud imaging at five times the speed of past technology.

– Offer better mapping of solar storms and magnetic storms.

A key person in the project is Dr. Scott D. Rudlosky, a NOAA scientist.

 “It’s a quantum leap,” he tells NewsRadio 740 KTRH.

Rudlosky’s a lightning expert. His earliest research was of positive cloud-to-ground, or “+CG,” lightning strikes – a particularly destructive kind that’s often linked to structural damage and wildfires.

He uses software to combine data from radar, models, cloud-to-ground lightning and intra-cloud lightning to study the relationships between lightning and radar parameters in storms.

He was part of the team that developed the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) aboard the GOES-R satellite.

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