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Satellite Image Details

These images are generated by geostationary satellites orbitting 22,000 miles above the equator. These include visible, infrared and water vapor images. The images are updated once an hour at 50 after the hour.


Visible Satellite Image

Sample visible image
Sample visible image

This image is the equivalent of taking a black and white photo of the earth. The bright areas show where the sun is being reflected back into space as a result of clouds or snow cover. Clouds and snow show up white. The thicker the cloud, the brighter the color. Land surfaces show up as gray and ocean surfaces nearly black. The major limitation to visible imagery is that it is only valid during daylight.

There are 5 sectors for the visible image:
  1. East - GOES east view centered over 75 west longitude showing eastern US and Atlantic Ocean.
  2. West - GOES west view centered over 125 west longitude showing western US and Pacific Ocean.
  3. Hemisphere - this is a pieced/merge view of both the GOES east and GOES west satellite views remapped to a Mercator projection.
  4. US - this is a pieced view of GOES east and west remapped to a polar stereographic projection.
  5. Regional - these are regional views remapped to a polar stereographic projection.

Infrared Satellite Image

Sample infrared image
Sample infrared image

This type of image shows heat based radiation from the infrared spectrum. In other words, the warmer the surface, the more infrared radiation it emits. For a satellite image, cooler surfaces are bright and warmer surfaces are dark. Since the atmosphere cools as you increase in altitude, clouds would show up as bright areas and land surfaces as dark areas. In addition, low clouds will be more gray and higher clouds will show up more white. Tall thunderstorm clouds will show up as bright white and fog will be hard to decern from land areas. A large advantage of IR is that you can view it 24 hours a day.

There are 5 sectors for the visible image:
  1. East - GOES east view centered over 75 west longitude showing eastern US and Atlantic Ocean.
  2. West - GOES west view centered over 125 west longitude showing western US and Pacific Ocean.
  3. Hemisphere - this is a pieced/merge view of both the GOES east and GOES west satellite views remapped to a Mercator projection.
  4. US - this is a pieced view of GOES east and west remapped to a polar stereographic projection.
  5. Regional - these are regional views remapped to a polar stereographic projection.

Enhanced Infrared Satellite Image

Sample enhanced infrared image
Sample enhanced infrared image

This is an infrared image enhanced to highlight the cloud areas and the coldest cloud tops. Since, IR images could be used to determine cloud height, these images are enhanced to highlight the highest, coldest cloud tops. Areas of strong precipitation will show up as shades of cyan. Thunderstorms will show up in blue and green. In addition, the contrast of warmer clouds is increased so that low clouds will show up. A color bar at the bottom of the image will describe the enhancement scheme. The tick marks at the top of the bar represent 10 degree Celsius increments starting at 50C on the left and going to -110C on the right.

The colored regions represent:
legend
Colors Temps (C) Temps (F) Description
dark cyan -32 to -43 -25 to -45 Jet stream and anvil clouds
cyan -43 to -54 -45 to -65  
light blue -54 to -60 -65 to -76 Thick jet stream clouds
dark blue -60 to -64 -76 to -83 Strong thunderstorm tops
dark green -64 to -70 -83 to -94  
green -70 to -76 -94 to -105 Severe thunderstorm tops
brown -76 to -81 -105 to -114 Strong Hurricane tops
yellow -81 to -90 -114 to -130  

Water Vapor Satellite Image

Sample water vapor image
Sample water vapor image

The water vapor image show an infrared band which is affected strongly by the presence of water vapor. Essentially, the image shows the altitude of the highest moist layer in the atmosphere. Bright areas reflect the location of high clouds either due to jet stream cloudiness or due to thunderstorm activity. The dark areas reflect the location of dry are at high altitudes. This is associated with dry air intrusion and sinking motion associated with high pressure systems. This image is a decent tracer of jet stream winds which will show up as bright streaks.

There are 4 sectors for the water vapor image:
  1. East - GOES east view centered over 75 west longitude showing eastern US and Atlantic Ocean.
  2. West - GOES west view centered over 125 west longitude showing western US and Pacific Ocean.
  3. Hemisphere - this is a pieced/merge view of both the GOES east and GOES west satellite views remapped to a Mercator projection.
  4. US - this is a pieced view of GOES east and west remapped to a polar stereographic projection.

Composite Satellite Surface Map

Sample satellite surface map
Sample satellite surface map

This is the infrared satellite image overlaid with the current surface weather map.
Infrared Satellite Image
Surface Weather Map

Composite Infrared Satellite and Radar Summary

Sample infrared-radar image
Sample infrared-radar image

This is the infrared image overlaid with the radar summary. The infrared image will highlight the deeper/higher clouds as bright white and the radar summary allows you to correlate the high clouds with precipitation. The radar summary is stippled so that the image will partially show through the radar summary.
Infrared Satellite Image
Radar Summary