28 June 2016

Using Satellite Data to Forecast Flooding

Posted by Dan Satterfield

A lot of folks have a vague idea of how valuable satellite data is for forecasting severe weather. With the launch of GOES R this fall, the data will be nearly real-time, like radar is now, and it will revolutionize forecasting. That said, we already have satellite products that (using the different IR and visible channels) can detect and track water vapor in the atmosphere. 

I chair the NWA Committee on Remote Sensing (I’m the dumbest person on it- which just goes to show you!), and one of our members (Sheldon Kusselson who is retired from NOAA/NESDIS) actually played a major role in the development of tracking the rivers of moisture in the atmosphere. He sent me some links and images today concerning the flooding in West Virginia that caused great loss of life and severe damage. Here’s what he sent with some links to the loops. This is mainly for meteorologists, but it is really worth sharing and you can google what you may not understand, or make a comment!

West VA Flood June 23, 2016 satellite 1

Click for much larger version

West VA Flood June 23, 2016 satellite 2

Click image for large version. The link will not work. I have them below.

Loop of the above imagery is here.

West VA Flood June 23, 2016 satellite 3

Again, click image for larger version. More on Total Precipitable Water here.

You can see the loop of the blended total precipitable water here.

More from Sheldon Kusselson

The link to the NASA SPoRT Realtime Imagery for the Soil Moisture of June 22 is:

They only keep a month of data, so the main web site for the latest soil moisture is at: http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/sportPublishData.pl?dataset=smap_conus

One last thing. If there is one fact that every meteorologist would like you to know, it’s this: Quit worrying so much about tornadoes, and worry about water and lightning. Those are the big killers in storms. Same with hurricanes. The winds do not kill people in a hurricane. The water does.

Big thanks to 

Sheldon Kusselson


NWA Remote Sensing Committee Member

twitter:  @wxman27