Tracing the Weather: From Field to Forecast

How do you know a hurricane is coming?  Do you see the clouds rolling in?  Do you hear it on the radio, television news, or online?   There are many different methods of receiving severe weather warnings:   the Emergency Broadcast System on your television, NOAA Weather Radio, and phone apps, to name a few.  Some communities use sirens!  But how do they get the information before delivering it to you?

One place your forecast starts is from environmental Earth observation satellites.  Polar satellites orbit from pole to pole about 500 miles above the Earth and acquire important weather data by scanning the entire planet one strip at a time.  These satellites give us the data to see what is coming days in advance and to prepare long term forecasts.  Geostationary satellites constantly monitor a fixed area on the Earth from over 22,300 miles above the surface and record more near-term weather observations.  The weather maps you see on TV are usually a combination of geostationary satellite images and ground-based radar distributed across hundreds of NOAA weather offices across the country.

All that data is collected, stored, and processed into neat data packages available to meteorologists.   The meteorologists use information in the package to create their forecast.  Meteorologists then present or send their predictions to the public via television, radio, or internet.

INNOVIM enables this process by designing instruments on NOAA’s satellites, optimizing National Weather service ground radar, developing the processes to create data packages, tracking equipment maintenance, and ensuring the information is disseminated quickly and accurately via All Hazards Radio, broadcaster alert systems, and NOAA websites. We are proud to be able to help protect citizens and their property from the effects of surprise weather, all year round.

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