HOUSTON - NOAA's GOES-16 satellite (short for the 16th "geostationary operational environmental satellite") is a game changer. While it doesn't become officially, "operational" (meaning, being approved for general use) until late this fall due to calibrations, its early imagery has been critical in analyzing the movements of Tropical Storm Cindy. Previous generations of satellites have done a fine job, but their resolution was was nowhere close to what GOES-16 provides and it's the ability to see what was previously unseen, which helps us make razor sharp forecasts.
For the first time, we could see clearly, vortices (swirls, or "eyes within the eye") circulating around the eye in a Fujiwara, "orbiting" mode. We could also see silt (mud) stirred up by the waves near-shore, then pushed down the coast from a long-shore current.
While Cindy was only a tropical storm, it did provide a working laboratory and proving ground for our use of this new weather satellite. This will better prepare us for future forecasts when a hurricane threatens with much broader impacts.
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