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Snow Storm of 1997

GOES Imagery

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) is a meteorological satellite operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There are currently three GOES satellites in geo-synchronous orbit around the Earth. This type of orbit allows the satellites to remain "parked" over a single location of the Earth's equator. The satellites that are currently operational are GOES-8 (centered over 75 deg west longitude) and GOES-9 (centered over 135 deg. west longitiude). A third satellite, GOES-10, is currently undergoing testing.

The bands of image data available from the GOES are:

  1. 0.52 - 0.72 um (visible) at 1 km, useful for cloud, pollution, and haze detection and severe storm identification;
  2. 3.78 - 4.03 um (shortwave infrared window) at 4 km, useful for identification of fog at night, discriminating between water clouds and snow or ice clouds during the daytime, detecting fires and volcanoes, and nighttime determination of sea surface temperature;
  3. 6.47 - 7.02 um (upper level water vapor) at "4" km, useful for estimating regions of mid-level moisture content and advection, and tracking mid-level atmospheric motions;
  4. 10.2 - 11.2 um (longwave infrared window) at 4 km, familiar to most users for cloud-drift winds, severe storm identification, and location of heavy rainfall;
  5. 11.5 - 12.5 um (infrared window more sensitive to water vapor) at 4 km, useful for identification of low-level moisture, determination of sea surface temperature, and detection of airborne dust and volcanic ash.

Images from both GOES satellites (all five bands) can be downloaded from a NASA website located at

The bands of information that are available on the GOES satellites are similar than those of the NOAA satellites (AVHRR Imagery), but with some important differences. The GOES Bands 1, 2, 4 and 5 are similar to the AVHRR Bands 1, 3, 4 and 5. However, the GOES satellite has no near-infrared band (AVHRR Band 2); the AVHRR has no water vapor band (GOES Band 3).

Unfortunately, I have no GOES data from the period covering the snowstorm, but the following will provide a demonstration of what the region would have looked like if there had been a GOES directly over 90 deg west longitude (click here).