HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — In the wake of the Oklahoma tornadoes, many are wondering how we can better prepare for storms of high magnitude. Meteorologists with NASA say they are working on new technology that may give forecasters a leg up on storms before they wreak havoc.
NASA uses many unique satellite remote sensing capabilities that were originally developed to study climate. Now, researchers are demonstrating those same sensors can study weather processes. “They can be some special sensors on satellites that provide very high resolution information or pictures in different channels that tell us something different about the atmosphere and the surface,” said Gary Jedlovec with NASA.
NASA’s satellite technology is assisting the National Weather Service and NOAA when it comes to weather prediction. They refer to it as “transition operations,” taking NASA research data and transitioning the capabilities to the operational. The technology was used to monitor the tornadoes that hit the Oklahoma City area earlier this week, but it wasn’t used in “real time.”
“We’re still trying to refine the capabilities and show the forecasters how it’s best used,” said Jedlovec. Jedlovec said that the NASA observations don’t supersede anything forecasters have now but rather provide additional information to boost confidence in the decision they make.
The technology will all be made possible with the launch of the GOES-R satellite. It will provide forecasters with instruments that take high resolution pictures of the atmosphere as well as a tool to monitor total lightning flashes across the country. Researchers hope to have the satellite launched by the end of 2015 or early 2016.