Satellite imagery from GOES
WeatherTAP provides many different satellite images at various spatial and temporal resolutions from GOES East and GOES West. Together, they give us a full view of the US and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans so that we can monitor weather from space 24 hours a day.
Access images from all five GOES imager channels: visible imagery, long wave infrared imagery, short wave infrared imagery, split-window infrared imagery, and water vapor imagery. You can view the full satellite image or zoom in to a regional level.
Visible Satellite: The high resolution of visible satellite allows us to see the clouds in finer detail and detects exactly what an astronaut would see from space. The brighter the cloud, the more water vapor it contains. Visible satellite allows us to see the building of cumulus clouds that could become thunderstorms. The fine resolution of the image also allows us to see dust plumes and subtle low-level boundaries (i.e. outflow boundaries, sea breeze fronts) that can indicate potential areas of thunderstorm genesis.
Wind direction can be determined by looking at the alignment and movement of cumulus cloud fields, such as with cloud streets. Shear can be analyzed by observing the different directions and speeds at which clouds move at the lowest levels verses the highest levels of the atmosphere, which can provide insight into the potential for thunderstorm development and intensity.
Infrared Satellite: Rather than using sunlight to see the "brightness" of the clouds, infrared (IR) uses radiation to determine clouds, allowing us to "see" clouds at all hours of the day. Colder temperatures show up whiter and represent clouds at various heights, while warmer temperatures show up darker and represent lower clouds and the contrasting land.
Water Vapor: Water vapor imagery allows us to see how much water vapor there is in the air. Water vapor is the fuel for storms, so this tells us how much "fuel" there is in the atmosphere. Meteorologists make the assumption that more moisture is associated with rising air, while less moisture is associated with sinking air.
Enhancements: Both IR satellite and water vapor imagery are enhanced using a color scheme that shows up features that may be more obscured using the standard black and white images. The color enhancements add detail to the images and cause things such as colder cloud tops, which are typically associated with stronger storms, to show up better.