December 02, 2018

Our New Weather Satellite is In Position

GOES-17, the new National Weather Service weather satellite, is now in position over the eastern Pacific.    And you should expect to see substantially improved weather imagery in the future....on this blog and everywhere else.


GOES-17 is a geostationary weather satellite, positioned over the equator at 137°W, that views the earth from 22,000 miles above the surface.  It is scheduled to go operational next week (December 10th) and will then be known as GOES-W.   For acronym lovers, GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.  In geostationary orbit, a satellite stays above the same location of Earth.

There some great websites for viewing GOES-17 imagery, with one of my favorites being this one, which shows visible imagery during the day and infrared at night.  Let me show you an image from 11:15 AM Saturday.  Magnificent.  And notice something?  It is in color!  The previous geostationary satellite was in black and white.

To get an idea of how much better the new GOES-17 satellite is than the current GOES-15, below is a comparison of the visible imagery at 9:45 AM Saturday morning.

On the top is the current visible imagery; on the bottom is GOES-17.  Pretty dramatic difference!

GOES-17 has roughly twice the horizontal resolution compared to the current satellite, scans the planet much more frequently, and views the earth in more wavelengths.  In fact, GOES-17 views the earth in 16 wavelength bands simultaneously, each one providing different information about clouds, the atmosphere, and the surface (see below).

And GOES-17 has a major new capability:  it is able to view lightning from space, sensing the lightning emitted from each pulse  (watch the video below!).

In short, GOES-17 will be a major advance for weather prediction and is an example of the expensive infrastructure that acts as a foundation for modern weather forecasting.


  1. In case anyone else was confused, the video at the bottom was taken when the satellite was in its "checkout position", before the final position it is in for the previous imagery in the article.

  2. 137°W is shown here:

  3. Awesome!!! Does the lightning detector cover south America? There are some places there with some serious storms.

  4. Minor error in the comparison slides... You show a visible image from GOES15, then a false color image from GOES17. That’s not the same visibile from G17.

  5. Did they resolve the instrument malfunction that was widely reported earlier this year?

  6. Thanks Cliff for the update! Observations from space are helpful. NASA has observed, documented and reported that humans have markedly warmed our planet during the past 100 + years. As just one example, to the best of my memory, the low temperature reached the single digits in W WA ~ exactly 35 years ago. Now W WA is basking in mid-upper 30 - degree weather! Although I know that such low temperatures were rare in the past, they seem to never occur anymore - at least in W WA. Bambi's mother had the answer, when asked what was causing the danger, she said "Man" & should have said "Woman" too. I remember a photo of my ~ 1 year-old oldest son on ~ 12/3/1983, all bundled-up in ~ 5 degree F weather (near Mt. Vernon, WA) looking to me & my wife with open arms to protect him from the bitter cold (which we promptly did). Now the frigid weather's gone from W WA, replaced by a warmed climate and damaged ecosystem!

  7. Climate change real - bad, skiing conspiracy, permanent drought, climate change not real, no drought, conservative, progressive, politics, weather.

    There. Now all of the typical irrelevant comments have been dealt with and their typical purveyors need not apply.

  8. agree that is spectacular imagery.

    "Additional GOES-17 imagery can be found through the following websites:
    CIMSS Satellite Blog
    CIRA GOES-16/GOES-17 Loop of the Day
    GOES-17 Real-Time Imagery CIRA
    NASA SPoRT Real-Time GOES-17 ABI Data
    SSEC Geostationary Satellite Imagery: GOES-17"

    Chris H.
    Heli-free North Cascades

  9. Thanks for the post Cliff. It's nice the government reliably accurately collects & analyzes weather data. Over the past few years NASA has gathered & analyzed a variety of meteorological information. They found humans have conclusively & significantly adversely warmed our planet. As one example, almost 35 years ago, on 12/23/1983, the temperature plummeted to the single digits in W WA (it was 9 degrees F at Seatac). Back then, my oldest son was ~ 1 year old. We have a photo of him all bundled on the Skagit River flats, reaching-up to us to be cuddled (which we promptly did) to protect him from frigid cold! Although such cold temperatures were rare back then, they have disappeared from our region during the past few decades. Scientific data are a wonderful thing, when used by honest and intelligent people!

  10. Stephen Fry - thanks for posting your wall of text of subjective memories and conclusions...twice. Because nothing says confidence in one's opinions better than repeating them endlessly.

  11. @Stephen Fry

    Without doing an exhaustive search (which assuredly would yield more recent such occurrences), single-digit minimum temperatures were recorded in northern Whatcom County at least as recently as January 17 and 18, 2012. I can only assume by "Western Washington" you are referring to populated locations in the lowlands as single digit temperatures certainly occur annually in many higher elevation areas west of the Cascade crest. Funny how easily "scientific data" are ignored when they fail to confirm one's preconceptions.

    1. Hi Stephen, Sorry for the duplicate messages. The first one didn't post after about 24 hours, so I rewrote it. Although I've worked as a data specialist for 9 years, and crunched a lot of numbers in various pursuits, you caught me in an error. Obviously, the temperature still drops below 10 degrees F in the W WA Cascades (& certain valleys), including atop 9131-ft Mt.Shuksan. I should have limited my comment to the Seattle metropolis, to avoid being an easy prey for contradiction. The less debatable points are that our W WA very lowest temperatures have warmed during the past ~ 25 years (at Seatac & Everett, for example), and solid scientific studies have concluded that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of such examples of global warming.

  12. Beautiful image, great tool. Straight into the favorites folder! Thank you for posting it Cliff.

  13. Wow! Those lightning shots were awesome and beautiful!


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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