Watch NOAA weather satellite map lightning before it strikes

  • Watch NOAA weather satellite map lightning before it strikes

Watch NOAA weather satellite map lightning before it strikes

They're not only spectacular images, they will also help meteorologists increase lead times for severe storm warnings.

Among the latest imagery to be released is the new lightning mapper. A new weather satellite now orbiting the planet just captured stunning footage of lightning strikes as viewed from space, along with data crucial to helping us better predict storms.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today released video shot by the GOES-16 satellite of a severe storm above Texas on February 14. The new "Geostationary Lightning Mapper" can detect both cloud-to-ground and cloud-to-cloud lightning strikes as well as all lightning over the oceans.

It continually monitors the Western Hemisphere, looking for lightning flashes that indicate when and where a storm is forming, and if it will become more risky. The satellite can essentially sit over storms and show whether they are getting stronger. The images and video show lightning flashes across the Western Hemisphere over the course of an hour. It includes bright flashes from a storm that spawned tornadoes and hail in the Houston region on Valentine's Day.

"For weather forecasters, GOES-R will be similar to going from a black-and-white TV to super-high-definition TV", said Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Services division, using another name for the satellite.

The GLM is operating aboard the GOES-16 satellite, which observes Earth from roughly 23,000 miles above the surface.

This satellite can scan the globe five times faster than current satellites, and it includes the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), the first lightning detector in geostationary orbit.

A rapid increase in lightning is often a good indicator that a storm is intensifying and could produce risky weather, according to NASA.

Better lightning maps could even help forecasters and firefighters identify dry areas that are susceptible to lightning-sparked wildfires. Beukel noted that the instrument is also monitoring cloud-to-cloud lightning for the first time. It can also photograph in-cloud lightning, which often occurs 5- to 10 minutes before cloud-to-ground lightning.

Combining the forces of two GOES-16 instruments, the Advanced Baseline Imager, or ABI, for cloud imaging and the never-before used lightning mapper - forecasters will be able alert people of developing threats.