New satellite to warn of severe weather by watching lightning

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GOES-R is the next generation of geostationary weather satellites. The program is a collaborative development and acquisition effort between NOAA and NASA. The GOES-R satellite will provide continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere and space weather monitoring. It will be the primary tool for the detection and tracking of hurricanes and severe weather and provide new and improved applications and products for fulfilling NOAA’s goals of Water and Weather, Climate, Commerce, and Ecosystem. Credit: Lockheed Martin/NOAA/ NASA

NOAA and NASA’s next generation weather satellite may provide earlier warnings

A new satellite that will detect the lightning inside storm clouds may lead to valuable improvements in tornado detection. The GOES-R satellite is currently being built with new technology that may help provide earlier warnings for severe weather. The national average is a 14-minute lead time to warn residents of a tornado, but NASA and NOAA scientists are looking to improve severe weather detection to save lives and property. They are developing the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series, or GOES-R, to observe thunderstorm development with much greater spatial and temporal detail than ever before. Severe weather knows no specific season and the new technology aboard GOES-R is expected to help provide earlier detection for warnings, whatever the time of year.

On Jan. 29 and 30, 2013, a winter-time tornado outbreak produced multiple tornadoes from the southern Plains states, across the Mississippi River Valley, eastward to the Mid-Atlantic. On Feb. 10, several tornadoes touched down in Mississippi, destroying 200 homes, damaging and causing injuries near Hattiesburg.

“These storms can spin up pretty quickly which limits warning lead-time,” said NOAA scientist Steve Goodman. “The radar and storm spotter’s view of tornadoes reaching the ground can be blocked by terrain, or visibility is very poor when the tornado is wrapped in rain. And it’s certainly more challenging for storm spotters to observe and confirm tornadoes occurring at night. Sometimes it’s just plain hard to come up with enough advance warning.” 

For the first time, scientists will be able to detect the lightning occurring inside storm clouds, and thus better track how developing storms are moving and intensifying before and during the occurrence of severe weather, Goodman said, all of which will help meteorologists better predict weather disasters.

“Based on the GOES-R research, there is a potential for greater accuracy and additional tornado warning lead time,” Goodman said. One significant advancement could help detect developing tornadoes at night to provide the public more time to get to safety.

Studies show that a sudden increase in total lightning flash rate is correlated to impending tornadoes and severe storms. The GOES-R Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) will have a new capability to take continuous day and night measurements of the frequent intra-cloud lightning activity that accompanies many severe storms. This will help forecasters identify intensifying storms before they start producing severe weather on the ground, enabling the issuance of more timely and accurate severe weather warnings.

“The majority of lightning is the in-cloud lightning and that’s difficult to detect, especially in the daytime,” Goodman said. “GLM will provide new information on lightning in the cloud that our eyes cannot see to allow forecasters to make an earlier determination of a severe and tornadic storms’ potential.”

The GLM instrument will see all types of lightning: cloud-to-ground, cloud-to-cloud and inside each cloud, and because the GOES-R satellite will cover most of the Western Hemisphere, it will help meteorologists track storms over the land and ocean from their inception.

But lightning isn’t the only sign of an impending storm.

Monitoring overshooting cloud tops can provide an early indication of a severe storm. These are dome-like clouds that penetrate above the anvil of a thunderstorm. The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) on GOES-R will better detect these overshooting tops that indicate a strong updraft.

While the current GOES satellite imager usually provides updated weather conditions during the formation of a storm about every 15 or 30 minutes, ABI will be able to show the changing cloud and weather conditions every 30 seconds in rapid scan mode. When ABI is not monitoring the formation of a storm, it will send imagery over the United States every 5 minutes instead of every 15 minutes, greatly increasing the data available to weather forecasters.

Satellite image of the Jan. 30 nor-easter that pulverized New England - beginning in the Gulf of Mexico

Satellite image of the Jan. 30 nor-easter that pulverized New England – beginning in the Gulf of Mexico

In addition to providing crucial information as part of NOAA’s fleet of operational weather satellites, GOES-R will also monitor space weather, such as solar flares and geomagnetic storms that stem from the sun’s activity and can affect spacecraft and human spaceflight.

The Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) will detect solar flares that can disrupt communication, power grids and have effects on satellites and airline passengers. The Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) is a telescope that observes the sun to detect eruptions which may result in coronal mass ejections. And to assess radiation hazard to astronauts and satellites, the Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS) will monitor protons, electrons and heavy ion fluxes at geosynchronous orbit. GOES-R’s Magnetometer (MAG) will also measure the magnetic field in space.

NOAA manages the GOES-R Program with an integrated NOAA-NASA program office organization, staffed with personnel from NOAA and NASA, and supported by industry contractors. The program is co-located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. GOES-R is expected to launch in late 2015.

For more information about GOES-R and the current GOES satellite fleet, visit:
www.goes-r.gov/
http://goes.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Rob Gutro
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

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44 Responses to New satellite to warn of severe weather by watching lightning

  1. vukcevic says:

    Huge proportion of thunderstorms happens in the tropical and subtropical regions. Vertical electrical potential between ionosphere and surface could be as high as 300kV.
    NASA’s study has already linked tropical thunderstorms with equatorial electrojet which is created when high-altitude winds of subtropical jet stream blow plasma across the Earth’s magnetic field. http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC20.htm

  2. johnmarshall says:

    Worth a try. Hope it works.

  3. _Jim says:

    New satellite to warn of severe weather by watching lightning

    Gee, I’ve been listening to it for the last few years intensively … always have a receiver tuned to around 250 kHz (LW or ‘longwave’) during the day and evening hours … I can ‘hear’ discharges when storms first fire up along the ‘dry line’ as far away as the Texas-New Mexico border ….

    Of note, too, is the ‘frequency’ (rate of discharges) when a storm REALLY gets cranked up, and one can verify on WSR-88D RADAR imagery that the ‘rain production’ (precipitation) has really picked up … the same ‘processes’ that produce the rain are active performing ‘charge separation’ which eventually leads to a lightning discharge …

    Too bad the NLDN (National Lightning Detection Network) is still on a 15 to 30 minute ‘delay’ for free viewing (behind a paywall for up to the minute data)

    http://thunderstorm.vaisala.com/explorer.html

    .

  4. wmsc says:

    Soooo old tech is now new tech? Lightning detection has been around a long time. Bet it’s going to cost a ton of money to move it from ground to satellite based…

  5. artwest says:

    The trouble is, this hasn’t been running since the year dot and will, no doubt, find much lightning that would previously gone unnoticed or at least unrecorded.
    Cue screaming headlines “Highest number of lightning flashes since records began! (We’re all going to die! It’s humanity’s fault! Repent now! Give us more money!)”

  6. steveta_uk says:

    “The majority of lightning is the in-cloud lightning and that’s difficult to detect, especially in the daytime,”

    I would have thought that radio noise would be fairly easily recognised as lightning. Is there some reason that this can’t be used (directionality perhaps?)?

  7. Steve Divine says:

    artwest – I LOL. Yup, you got it.

  8. Gamecock says:

    How is this sucker going to wake me up to tell me there is a strong storm coming?

    This is being oversold. It might be worthwhile for scientific study purposes, but it isn’t going to save any lives. It isn’t going to tell meteorologists anything they don’t already know from existing systems, like NEXRAD. Even the local television stations have their own severe weather detection systems, independent of NWS and other government systems.

  9. _Jim says:

    steveta_uk says March 1, 2013 at 6:18 am

    “The majority of lightning is the in-cloud lightning and that’s difficult to detect, especially in the daytime,”

    I would have thought that radio noise would be fairly easily recognised as lightning. Is there some reason that this can’t be used (directionality perhaps?)?

    Polarization, more likely; inter/intra cloud creates a horizontal E-field components whereas C-G (cloud to ground) discharges create vertical E-field components …

    .

  10. Tom O says:

    Lets see –

    “The national average is a 14-minute lead time to warn residents of a tornado, but NASA and NOAA scientists are looking to improve severe weather detection to save lives and property. ”

    How wonderful. You are going to give them a few more minutes to move their houses out of the way of the tornado? What DO you people smoke? Got any to spare? Better still, are you open to a brain transplant?

    REPLY: Is this what they pay you to do at the USDA Office of Operations in Fort Collins Colorado at taxpayers expense, spend time suggesting people need a brain transplant and that they are smoking some mind altering substance? Bureaucrats displaying condescension for the people they serve don’t wash here.

    The warning of even an additional minute can save lives by giving people time to get to shelter, in a tornado a minute is a lifetime. As for property, knowledge of a heavy thunderstorm can give people time to secure items, or get them under shelter. I would assume that since you live in Colorado, you’ve seen massive hail storms that come from those front range thunderstorms. Wouldn’t you like a few extra minutes notice so you can pull your car into the garage so it doesn’t look like a golf ball afterwards?

    – Anthony Watts

  11. Paul Martin says:

    vukcevic says:
    March 1, 2013 at 4:46 am

    Vertical electrical potential between ionosphere and surface could be as
    high as 300kV.

    That low? The UK’s national electricity grid regularly uses 400kV for distribution, and people regularly walk underneath those wires. I think the figure must be wrong.

  12. tadchem says:

    Any ham radio operator can tell you that lightning is a broadband emitter. Wavelengths of EM radiation anywhere from 1 cm to 1 km (5 orders of magnitude) are produced in abundance. AM Radios are especially effective receivers.
    Satellite-borne microwave detection merely gives you improved directionality. Long before a potential thunderstorm starts the circulation going we can tell where it is and which way it is going. A funnel cloud can still develop from a non-circulating updraft in mere minutes.

  13. jabre says:

    I don’t understand the proposal. My understanding is that land-based doppler radar provides the best indication of tornadic activity as you are observing the atmospheric conditions that lead to a tornado as opposed to the result (high lightning concentration). What am I missing?

  14. cotwome says:

    As a weather buff I usually look at the visible satellite, developing cumulus clouds show up ‘before’ the lighting, and you can see with infrared if the clouds are trending towards colder tops. Having imagery only delayed 5 minutes is great, and only a 30 seconds delay in rapid scan is amazing! This is good stuff.

  15. polistra says:

    People who live in tornado-prone areas, and the weathercasters who serve them, already know which storms are likely to produce twisters. Knowing when to be awake and alert is the important variable.

    If you’re prepared, 14 minutes is more than enough time to reach a shelter.

    If you’re not prepared (i.e no shelter nearby, or you don’t know how to find shelter outdoors) even a full day of warning won’t help.

  16. Sparx says:

    When I was living near Eglin AFB in the Florida panhandle, we had occasion to observe too closely a number of tornados and waterspouts. Over time, we noticed that whenever a nearby tornado formed, the signal from the Pensacola TV station on channel 2 would get covered up with snow (AM noise).

    So I began watching the spectrum from 10 to 200 MHz with a spectrum analyzer whenever possible during stormy weather. Eventually I got to see that tornados seem to be associated with extremely intense electrical phenomena which is broadly resonant and centered near 60 MHz.

    I Never figured out why. Just a number of observations.

    I never got the chance to determine what the maximum detection range for the noise was. It might have given us an idea of the height above ground from where the noise was being radiated.

  17. Sparx says:

    Sorry, for the typo, it was actually Channel 3.

  18. oldfossil says:

    Thumbs up NASA. This is the kind of really cool space technology that makes us remember why we fell in love with you. Thankyou NOAA too.

  19. _Jim says:

    Sparx says March 1, 2013 at 8:25 am

    When I was living near Eglin AFB in the Florida panhandle, we had occasion to observe too closely a number of tornados and waterspouts. Over time, we noticed that whenever a nearby tornado formed, the signal from the Pensacola TV station on channel 2 would get covered up with snow (AM noise).

    This is due to the fact that RF (air) CH 2, the *lowest* TV channel (54 – 60 MHz) is more susceptible to the near-constant lightning than RF CH 3 and above, although 3 is just marginally above 2, in most markets either 2 or 3 is assigned but not both (b/c of the “Adjacent channel assignment rule”) making CH 4 the next occupied TV CH

    I have tried verifying this phenom, and the above is my studied observation and opinion. Prior to the occupation of CH 2 (by our local NPR/PBS affiliate) in the DFW area we had no over the air CH 2 in this market (I have seen DX from S. America on CH 2, however!)

    Even though a poster above claims that ‘lightning produces wideband spectra’, in fact, it does not. There is roll-off on both the upper frequency (towards blue light) end as well as the lower end (towards DC). The upper freq rolls off at perhaps 6 to 12 dB per octave as frequency is increased (i.e., for every doubling of freq the signal reduces by 6 to 12 dB).

    So, CH 2 RF is simply the *lowest* available channel that *lightning* effects are most effectively observable.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_broadcast_television_frequencies

    Also, being a long-time used of Low-band VHF radios (6 meters, 50 – 54 MHz, JUST below TV CH 2 RF), I don’t recall even one single instance where anomalous wide-band ‘hash’ was present aside from the noise whipped-up by the rapid occurrence of lightning!

    Corona forming off the antenna (one hears what one might describe as a ‘ripping’ sound under such conditions) is another thing. That effect disappears upon the occurrence of lightning in the vicinity. This could also explain what was seen/observed in the past on “TV sets” in the vicinity of a thunderstorm.

    .

  20. Donald Mitchell says:

    I stood in my back yard and watched the December 5, 1975 Tulsa tornado from a distance of roughly a mile. There was very little if any wind at my location. It was an unusually warm day for December. I cannot recall if it was overcast, but it was a reasonably bright day and there were no low clouds that obscured a view of the full height of the tornado. There was no rain at my location and I saw no lightning or heard any thunder. While tornadoes are often associated with storms and storm fronts, storms or storm fronts are neither necessary nor sufficient for tornadoes. It is my opinion (on which I would appreciate seeing data that would demonstrate an error) that a necessary condition is a specific gravity inversion in the atmosphere. A cubic mile of air weighs on the order of 10 billion pounds, so it does not take much difference in specific gravity to allow for a lot of energy to be involved in a few cubic miles of air to swap places with a higher density (read lower temperature or humidity) air a few miles above it. What it also needs is a mechanism to allow that swap. An inversion layer can be incredibly stable as anyone who stood up on the hills surrounding the Los Angeles basin in the early 1960’s and had a clear view of the hills on the opposite side and the tops of those buildings that stuck up through the smog can certainly understand. Once a hole is punched through the heavier upper layer, I suspect the effect is similar to what you get when you pull a plug from the center of a wash tub. I have never noticed a lack of a vortex by the time the washtub was empty. Storm fronts may be helpful in providing the the specific gravity inversion and some turbulence to help form the hole through the upper layer, but they are definitely not necessary. I would hope that the forecasters are looking closely at the relative specific gravities of the air masses and their probable spatial distributions since I suspect that there are very few tornadoes when cold dry air is being overridden by warm moist air.
    Of course there are some complications in that the relative specific gravities must be corrected to account for the lapse rate to some common equivalent pressure since they will change significantly in absolute terms during the exchange.

  21. Mushroom George says:

    I think I’ve heard of GOES-R before. But wasn’t the full name Goes-r the Goezarian? Who ya gonna call?

  22. CCM591 says:

    I am a retired NWS operational meteorologist and we typically used rapidly increasing lightning in a cell based on the LDN as one criteria for the potential for a cell to go severe. LDN only detects CG strikes though, so this technique may have some benefit for early detection.

  23. _Jim says:

    vukcevic says:
    March 1, 2013 at 4:46 am
    Vertical electrical potential between ionosphere and surface could be as
    high as 300kV.

    Paul Martin says:
    March 1, 2013 at 7:49 am
    That low? The UK’s national electricity grid regularly uses 400kV for distribution, and people regularly walk underneath those wires. I think the figure must be wrong.

    vukcevic could mean 300kV/m (i.e., “300 kV per meter”) … I don’t recall right off hand what the number would be … resulting in a number substantially above the “UK’s national electricity grid” …

    With a cloud potential-center at 10,000 feet (3 km) this might result in a potential difference of 1,000,000 Volts (1 million Volts) at the rate of 300kV/m to ground.

    .

  24. vukcevic says:

    Paul Martin says: March 1, 2013 at 7:49 am
    …..
    Hi Paul
    It is highly variable (space weather conditions), sources quote different values, here taken from NASA it is quoted 200 and 500KV, see illustration 2

    http://www.atmo.arizona.edu/students/courselinks/fall07/nats101s34/Lecture28/lecture28erk.ppt#3

  25. MattS says:

    Mushroom George,

    I am the Gatekeeper, are you the Key Master? :)

  26. John Coleman says:

    Warning of [severe] thunderstorms and tornadoes far enough in advance to save lives is the most difficult task assigned to the National Weather Service. I have been on the media end of issuing these warnings for 60 years. Detection on tornadoes as they are in the early stages of formation has been the primary challenge. Advanced radar has been a big help. Higher resolution and more timely satellite pictures has also helped. But, it remains very difficult to determine which storms will produce a tornado that reaches the ground and does damage. Perhaps this timely lightning detection will move the task forward. I respect this development and regard the NWS and NASA as amazingly fine scientific organizations. I only regret that the top levels of NOAA and NWS are now being infiltrated with climate change activists.

  27. DD More says:

    Is NOAA trying to cover itself from the recent GOA report that their screw ups are going to cause a 1-11 year gap of GOES satellite coverage.
    Per the report NOAA doesn’t have the expertise to design working satellites.

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:6pnVlbNCWJcJ:www.gao.gov/new.items/d10456.pdf+goa+noaa+nasa+satelite+program+poes&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjVQnEKisUItxw2hnID1Ke9Q-R6Koy9_eWAinUyhPPDwxq1FWHwEa4Mejt5YJehgYtS-JvqXtsgAbyry_XcCMOOFMHqSpetijauTLNQCRcz_XKqPIO7Inwtmgtdtyi7RFS1spNd&sig=AHIEtbRuFEzKnP4t6TCFhev0mBXNA27Pvg

  28. JKrob says:

    I’m surprised they left out some important details concerning the new ABI instrument – instrument channels & resolution. The Imager on the current GOES spacecraft family has a visible channel (1km resolution) and 4 infrared channels (4km resolution). The new ABI instrument on the GOES-R family will have a visible channel (.5 km resolution), 3 near visible channels (1km resolution) and 12 infrared channels (2km resolution)!! That is a *HUGE* improvement over what has been flying in the past but will also mean much larger data rates & volumes to deal with in processing and distributing the data.

    Jeff
    NOAA/NSDIS

  29. vukcevic says:

    Tom O says:
    March 1, 2013 at 7:18 am
    What DO you people smoke? Got any to spare? Better still, are you open to a brain transplant?

    Are you a donor ?

  30. Uzurbrain says:

    Can’t we put up about a dozen blimps with a spider web between them, drop a wire and hook it up to an inverter and get FREE electricity?

  31. Duncan says:

    All I can think of is, GOES-R the Goes-Rian from GhostBusters.

    I’m glad they didn’t name any of the sensor arrays after Zuul.

  32. Jeff says:

    vukcevic says:
    March 1, 2013 at 11:36 am
    Tom O says:
    March 1, 2013 at 7:18 am
    What DO you people smoke? Got any to spare?
    Better still, are you open to a brain transplant?

    Are you a donor ?

    Yep….never been used….

  33. Tom O says:

    REPLY: Is this what they pay you to do at the USDA Office of Operations in Fort Collins Colorado at taxpayers expense, spend time suggesting people need a brain transplant and that they are smoking some mind altering substance? Bureaucrats displaying condescension for the people they serve don’t wash here.

    The warning of even an additional minute can save lives by giving people time to get to shelter, in a tornado a minute is a lifetime. As for property, knowledge of a heavy thunderstorm can give people time to secure items, or get them under shelter. I would assume that since you live in Colorado, you’ve seen massive hail storms that come from those front range thunderstorms. Wouldn’t you like a few extra minutes notice so you can pull your car into the garage so it doesn’t look like a golf ball afterwards?

    – Anthony Watts

    Hello Anthony. I took my time before I decided to respond on this. It’s your web site so you can do what ever you want. I Will, however, state my position.

    Let’s say I live in a house and see thunderclouds and lightning in the distance. I say “hmmm, that looks like it might be heading in my direction.” So I immediately run in the house, turn on the TV or radio and wait anxiously for the early announcement that there is golf ball sized hail in the storm and it is going to be here in 20 minutes. So I take a shower, water the plants and then walk out to my car and drive it in the garage thanking all the while the 100s of millions of dollars spent on a satellite that gave me 6 more minutes – so I could take that shower, instead of the 14 I would have had otherwise. Stupid argument, isn’t it? Just as stupid as noting my comment was about tornado warnings, you switched it hail storms and made your self righteous stand.

    The truth is, people don’t look at thunderstorms and sit around waiting to see if there is going to be a “severe weather warning.” If they are in an area prone to tornadoes, they probably already know what to look for and what not to be concerned about, and I still doubt that they are going to sit around and wait for a severe weather warning.

    I have been coming to this site for a few months and have read a lot of information about the science of climate. Or maybe I should say I have been reading a lot about the proxy of science. It seems science, today, is based on proxy as opposed to the empirical data I used to understand. Funny, when I was growing up, I thought the evolution of the Earth went from a hot, smouldering lump, finally cooling down allowing life to form – or land, which ever. Through millions of years, it slowly evolved in the sea, as I recall, and finally crawled out onto the land, or so it was presented. It then continued to evolve until the tage of the dinosaurs, which ended 60 million or so years ago, but the age of mammals started at that time and continued up until the ice ages. And now I read that ice ages preceded the dinosaurs, so either my memory has gone or proxies created the ice age that I wasn’t taught about in grade school. To be honest, I won’t pretend I know which is true, but for the life of me, I can not recall of an ice age preceding the age of dinosaurs anywhere in my memory, and that is strange.

    So I guess science has changed as well as my memory. I don’t fault you for your high and haughty reply to my comment. I do fault you for trying to identify me and print that identity in your column, I consider that a bit on the unethical side, but, again, it is your website. I have seen, basically, the same proxy information and the same temperature graphs and the same attacks on the unethical nature of the unethical “warmists.” I see the same chest thumping, back patting cries in the comments about how “we are winning the battle of climate change because the data is on our side.” I see the same graphs showing that turn up at the end showing what looks like a huge increase and then the long period of no change. I saw someone making a comment about if the temperature hasn’t changed, how can the claim be made that there is no warming. I saw gentle attacks but no one saying the obvious response that warming would require the temperature to go up, not just level off. I see all this and get so frustrated because “climate change” is not about science and it’s not about a “new religion.” It is entirely political, aimed at world government and massive population reduction, yet this constant arguing about warming versus cooling, etc., only keeps everyone’s eyes on the “non issue of science” instead of what really needs to be made obvious to the dumbed down population – through intentionally suppressed education, fluoridation, and mercury injections via vaccinations – that being, if cooling IS coming, turning food acreage into biomass acreage and eliminating nuclear and coal power generation in favor of “renewables” is setting up millions if not billions of people to be starved or froze to death. Climate change isn’t about stealing money from the poor and giving it to the rich, again, it is about getting rid of nationalism and creating a world government to govern over what is allowed to be left of the human race.

    That’s okay, see, because this is your web site and it feeds your ego, along with all the pats on the backs from the like minded, similarly blinded people that hang on your every sentence. I thank you for all the useful information that I have learned from this site. I will miss Willis’ ramblings of his obviously incredibly adventurous youth. That’s also okay. Enjoy the rest of your life – until we run out of food and energy to ward off the cold. No one said it would last forever. Last post, and the beauty is I won’t even notice if it’s posted or not since I won’t waste my time here where the ethics are questionable. And no, you don’t pay me to make comments, but even federal workers are allowed breaks and I can use that time the best way I see fit. It was used to learn from your site, watch your picking at people’s statements and wondering what it was you read in them that I didn’t see, but I still held you in high esteem because of all the praise I saw. Your actions changed my mind and I truly am thankful I hadn’t gotten around to vote for this site. It would sort of be on the same level as voting for Bush in 2004 or Obama in 2012.

  34. “Tom O says:
    March 1, 2013 at 8:06 pm
    Enjoy the rest of your life – until we run out of food and energy to ward off the cold”

    Another example of the closed and ignorant mind that refuses to see past their own indoctrinated fetish. Even when it tries to apologise or explain, it is still repulsive. Maybe SkS would be more to your liking. They think the same way as you do.

  35. beng says:

    ****
    Tom O says:
    March 1, 2013 at 8:06 pm
    ****

    You should’ve condensed that wordy reply down to — ” “.

  36. Man_Tran says:

    We pilots have had the benefits of an invention from Columbus called a Stormscope for about 40 years. It was always better at saving your bacon than the early on-board radars.

    A friend was flying east of Columbus one spring day in 1974 when his Stormscope went off like a warehouse of Roman candles. It was the Xenia killer, well beyond the range of the scope, but so strong it swamped the receiver.

  37. Luther Wu says:

    Tom O says:
    March 1, 2013 at 8:06 pm
    _____________
    What a flounce!
    Don’t get your petticoats caught in the door on your way out.

  38. Sparx says:

    Jim Said:
    Sparx says March 1, 2013 at 8:25 am

    ” When I was living near Eglin AFB in the Florida panhandle, we had occasion to observe too closely a number of tornados and waterspouts. Over time, we noticed that whenever a nearby tornado formed, the signal from the Pensacola TV station on channel 2 would get covered up with snow (AM noise). ”

    Jim,

    I can’t help thinking that you may not have read my post carefully. And, I am guilty of having left out a lot of detail in the interest of brevity.

    1. The interference with channel 3 was merely the trigger for us to examine the spectrum in the vicinity of 60 MHz. We also had considered the possibility of corona induced on external antennas by high E filed gradients near a storm cloud. Some of the triggering events were from storms that were too far from us to have produced any corona locally.

    2. Absent the formation of a tornado, lightning strikes in the area did not fully “snow” out the signal from the TV station on Channel 3 for from a few minutes to half hour at a time. The lightning strikes produced fairly narrow horizontal bars in the picture but the picture was still there and mostly watchable.

    3. We did our spectrum collection with a Spectrum Analyzer NOT a TV set. When we set out to find the shape of the noise spectrum we were using a wide band calibrated omnidirectional EMI antenna that more than covered the frequency range of interest. We used the antenna factor calibration for the antenna to normalize the data from the analyzer. The antenna was not exposed to any strong static E fields that may have been present. It was located under a fiberglass radome at a site designed for the purpose.

    4.

    First, I didn’t say “lightning” produced a wide band spectra broadly centered near 60 MHz. I said that the tornado once formed did. And, I didn’t mean to imply that the wide band spectra was in any way “nearly uniform” across the entire EM spectrum.

    Second, lightning does indeed produce a wide band spectra. But it ‘s peak is NOT centered near 60 MHz. The broad peak for the strike pulse energy is somewhere around 40ish KHz. With the VAST majority of the total power in the strike pulse spectra occurring below 1 MHz for the individual pulse (some, even many, strikes have multiple pulses). And there is still quite a lot of very noticeable energy present above 1 MHz all the way up through (and beyond) the HF spectrum. Most of this being from the stepped leader discharge channel formation process. The preceding numbers are from measurements on cloud to ground strikes (the kind we are usually most concerned with). They may differ somewhat for cloud to cloud discharges depending on the length of the discharge channel.

    I apologize for the length of this post but I thought I needed to clarify some of the measurement conditions in place at the time of the observations I was reporting.

  39. Tiburon says:

    Tornadoes as Electric Discharge
    “It is commonly thought that a tornado is a means for mechanical energy in the storm to be converted somehow to electrical power, which is then transmitted very effectively to ground by the electrical conduit of the charged sheath vortex inside the tornado. The “somehow” arises only because nobody visualizes the electrical dimension of the solar system. Electrical power from space is partially dissipated in the mechanical energy of the encircling winds. Instead of generating the electrical effects, the tornadic winds are driven by the charge sheath vortex and its connection to the electric currents of the solar system.”

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2005/arch05/050330tornado-electric-discharge.htm

    http://www.holoscience.com/wp/sunspot-mysteries/?article=s9ke93mf

    Interesting discussion here: –

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2083&start=0

    I think this GOES-R is a fabulous tool that may advance our understanding, of what may yet prove to be a major driver of weather/climate. IMHO.

  40. Tiburon says:

    Evidently, a few folks have survived being able to look up inside large tornadoes, and they are filled with blue electrical light. Not sure if that proves anything, way above my paygrade.
    Here’s a pic of banded inflow to a waterspout, courtesy NOAA (Joseph Golden), which suggests electromagnetic forces hard at work, yes?

    Charles Chandler’s online book “Observations on the Electromagnetic Nature of Tornadic Supercell Thunderstorms” seems a reasonably robust or at minimum debatable thesis: –

    http://charles-chandler.org/Geophysics/Tornadoes.php?text=brief&images=onDemand&units=metric

  41. Sharon says:

    In reading though the article and following comments, there’s questions on how much lead time do we need if a tornado is headed your direction. In many situations, 14 minutes is not enough. Examples – schools getting all the students in a safe zone. Making sure disabled people can be moved quick enough. Moving residents of a hospital or nursing home (sadly many nursing homes are under staffed). The stay at home parent getting infants/toddlers or a sick child to a safe place. Those living in apartments or trailer home who must leave and not run into traffic.
    These are some of the reasons I became a certified weather spotter to increase lead time.
    Now one question I have asked many in the weather field but have gotten no answer. I have observed lightning suddening spiking (cloud to ground) in tornado cells and then stop once the tornado has grounded itself ( switching to cloud to cloud or in sheets across the sky) . What’s happening? And second either day or night, I have observed pink lightning in cells about to produce tornadoes or already have. What would cause a color change from white to pink lightning. Any ideas out there?

  42. Tiburon says:

    I’ve not the faintest idea, Sharon – but find it mystifying and fascinating. I’ll probably be immediately jumped on for saying this, but I believe the classic view of tornado formation is that they are (mostly) artifacts of convection and local pressure differentials that generate some degree of electrostatic effect via winds motion. Something like that. Whereas the EU (Electric Universe) proponents view them as essentially a scalable “charged sheath vortex”, enormously powerful electromagnetic forces generated by a rapidly rotating electric charge, that produce the apparent winds and turbulence that surround the tornado’s core sheath. Meanwhile, once they touch down they allow a “slow” discharge (compared with lightening) of the millions of volts of electrical potentials between earth and space. Maybe this is why you see lightening strikes diminishing after tornado formation and only continuing cloud-to-cloud and within cloud – the energy has a sufficient pathway to ground after touchdown. Sort of cartoon science on my part of course, but follow the links in my last post for more scientifically erudite explanations coming from the EU community. Red lightening! Wow. (I think I’ve seen this when I grew up in the Prairies) Halton Arp believed (grossly paraphrasing) that the famous ‘redshift’ seen astronomically denoted ‘younger formations’ of stellar events, rather than distance, so maybe something to do with building towards a more developed/ordered electromagnetic pattern in the cells?

  43. Tiburon says:

    I’ve heard it said that lower energy lightening can be reddish (cooler ~4000K) while usual white/yellow/blue lightening can heat the surrounding air to 30,000K.
    It’s really complex as they’ve discovered Blue Jets in the stratosphere, Sprites in the lower ionosphere and Elves in the upper ionosphere (almost Space). It’s thought Elves are mostly red and they think they know how they form
    “ELVES often appear as dim, flattened, circular in the horizontal plane, expanding glows around 250 miles (400 km) in diameter that last for, typically, just one millisecond.[115] They occur in the ionosphere 60 miles (97 km) above the ground over thunderstorms. Their color was a puzzle for some time, but is now believed to be a red hue. Elves is an acronym for Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations from Electromagnetic Pulse Sources.[116] This refers to the process by which the light is generated; the excitation of nitrogen molecules due to electron collisions (the electrons possibly having been energized by the electromagnetic pulse caused by a discharge from the Ionosphere).[117]
    But these would be far above thunderstorm cells, so I dunno
    Some say it’s just dust or other stuff in the atmosphere causing the reddish hue but I don’t think this is what you are describing.

  44. Sharon says:

    Tiburon,
    Good ideas, some real ones for a change. I had one TV met suggest that light was being reflected from the sun light but that doesn’t explain why the same pink or red is seem whether it’s day or night time. Back when I spotted storms in TN, at night when watching storms cells roughly 50 miles away it was better than watching fire works. I have seen the cloud tops with a redish hue (the lightning allowing me to see where all it is present in a cloud formation) and one brief rare time I believe I witness some blue jets or spites. There was a cloud top (large super cell) where I saw some white-blue lightning come from atop the cloud going upward. Talk about missed photo opp. What I have seen many a time in over 15 years of spotting is usually a large discharge of cloud to ground which is pink. One thing, this lightning is usually within 1 to 10 miles of my location so perhaps the fact it is close by may play a role in the color my eyes see.
    BTW I am at Harvest, AL where we have UAH near-by. They offer a “Weather Fest” to the public each fall for educating the public and an outlet for the weather nerds!

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