The Ace in Meteorology

Brandon tries out the news anchor desk at KIMT
Brandon tries out the news anchor desk at KIMT

Brandon tries out the news anchor desk at KIMT in Mason City, Iowa.

Scientists say that new high-definition weather satellites developed by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA will enable experts to predict storms with more accuracy than ever.

One such satellite, GOES-R (now called GOES-16) was launched last November. GOES is short for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.

The satellite will take pictures of the Western Hemisphere and send them back to Earth. “It will give meteorologists a better prediction of weather,” said Brandon Libby, a meteorologist at KIMT 3 News in Mason City, Iowa.

Kid Reporter Brandon posing with Meteorologist Brandon Libby of KIMT Channel 3 from Mason City, IA

Brandon talks with meteorologist Brandon Libby of KIMT.

The old satellite system could take images of only certain small areas every five minutes. GOES-R takes a picture of half the Earth every 39 seconds. “You don’t have to wait for the next satellite run and have to guess what is happening,” Libby said.



GOES-R provides data for watches and warnings, drought outlooks, seasonal predictions, hurricanes, and tornadoes. NASA’s budget on GOES-R was $10 billion, but they went over that.

GOES-R will provide more accurate information for meteorologists trying to determine when and where a tornado will strike, for example. “For severe weather, we get more accurate data faster so that we give better warning times,” said Libby, whose town was hit by a deadly tornado when he was a child.

GOES-R continually measures up to 65 different things, including cloud tops and precipitation rates. GOES-R will give three times better data and is the first satellite with lightning mappers. The lightning mapper is the key in predicting storms.

Weather forecasting goes beyond knowing where severe storms are. It also affects travel, transportation, and communications. More accurate weather forecasts will help in planning field trips and family vacations and keeping everyone safe from hazards.

Photos courtesy of the author