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Snowstorms -- From Satellites
Getting Started
WW2010 Enhanced GOES IR
During a snowstorm, satellite imagery can show the most intense areas of a storm. Satellite imagery may also be used to find the relative temperature of the clouds. The areas of most intense storm help predict where the larger snowfall amounts might occur. The cloud temperatures allow students to look for the relationship between snowflake shapes and cloud conditions.

The primary weather information for the United States comes from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, or GOES. The GOES are owned and operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, in partnership with NASA, which manages the building and launch of the satellites. Images and data from GOES is used by many groups that use them to make weather images or weather predictions. Winter's Story has links to two such groups that use GOES data. One is the NASA Global Hydrology and Climate Center, and another is the University of Illinois WW2010 Project.

Several GOES orbit Earth at about 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) in altitude. They are in orbits that allow them to remain directly above one spot on Earth. At least two satellites are always providing weather data on the United States. GOES-East is over the equator monitoring the Atlantic Ocean and eastern part of the United States (at 75° W longitude + the same as Philadelphia, Pa.). GOES- West is over the equator monitoring the Pacific Ocean and western part of the United States (at 135° W longitude - the same as Sitka, Alaska).

Global Hydrology and Climate Center images use GOES-East and GOES-West separately. You will have to choose the East or West view. WW2010 images give choices of GOES-East or GOES-West. WW2010 also combines the East and West images into a full view of the continental U.S. Two different sources of the same GOES IR are provided for comparison purposes. Each source enhances the GOES data in a slightly different way. Details visible with one source may be difficult to see with another. Use multiple sources to better understand snowstorms.