You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

New satellite helps track Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas wildfires


When wildfires scorched more than 1 million acres in early March across parts of the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma and Kansas, forecasters used a new weather satellite to see the infernos developing, almost in real time.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports when a line of severe thunderstorms produced five tornadoes in the Houston area on Feb. 14, the same satellite could see lightning strikes intensifying inside the storms. That kind of information could be helpful the next time a strong line of storms fires up west of Fort Worth.

“This high-resolution data is going to give us a lot of insight into the severity of these storms,” said Tom Bradshaw, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth, who added that lightning is one clue to the intensity of a storm.

The GOES 16 (short for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) was launched last November and sits more than 22,000 miles above the Earth.

The satellite is still in a testing phase and not considered operational, but it is providing stunning images, not just of weather phenomena like the West Texas dust storms, but of the sun as well.

Wildfires show up as black spots on the satellite’s infrared images. In remote areas, the satellite may detect them before anybody sees them on the ground. The satellite won’t see one- to two-acre fires but should see anything spreading about 50 acres, Bradshaw said.

“What we’re able to do now is detect fires pretty shortly after they start,” Bradshaw said. “The characteristics of how fires show up on infrared satellite data are pretty distinct.”

For North Texas, the satellite could help with severe storms and large wildfires, such as the Possum Kingdom wildfire that charred 170,000 acres in Palo Pinto, Young and Stephens counties in 2011.

“None of these by themselves are going to be silver bullets,” Bradshaw said. “But it’s going provide us a richer data set.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Herman: When Greg Abbott joked about gun violence and reporters
Herman: When Greg Abbott joked about gun violence and reporters

There’s nothing funny about gun violence, threatened or otherwise. Ditto for physical violence. And — and I’m getting close to home here — there’s nothing funny about threatened gun or physical violence against members of my esteemed and respected-by-all craft. Look, I know Gov. Greg Abbott was joking Friday at a South...
To send students to quiet rooms, Texas educators must follow 7 rules
To send students to quiet rooms, Texas educators must follow 7 rules

A Bastrop mom this week posted a photo on Facebook of a padded room where she found her son without supervision, sparking outrage over the practice. A similar controversy flared up in New Braunfels in 2015. Here are seven rules Texas educators must follow when sending students to such quiet rooms: 1. Time out rooms, also called cool down, calm, quiet...
20 years after deadly tornado, Jarrell trying to not awaken memories
20 years after deadly tornado, Jarrell trying to not awaken memories

Charline Adams is still finding reminders of the storm that tore through this small town, 20 years later. She was not home when the Jarrell tornado, as it’s come to be known in Central Texas, ripped her home apart. But a few weeks later, Adams said, she found the church bulletin announcing her marriage — a memento she had kept in a closet...
Sweeping abortion regulations sent to Gov. Abbott
Sweeping abortion regulations sent to Gov. Abbott

Eleven months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned abortion regulations that would have left only nine abortion clinics open in Texas, sweeping new restrictions are on their way to Gov. Greg Abbott. Voting 22-9, the Texas Senate on Friday gave final approval to Senate Bill 8, which requires fetal tissue to be buried or cremated, bans the most common...
George P. Bush: Coast-to-coast border wall ‘probably not feasible’
George P. Bush: Coast-to-coast border wall ‘probably not feasible’

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush on Friday said President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border is “probably not feasible,” joining other Texas Republicans who have cast doubt on Trump’s signature campaign promise. “We need to have a strategic, methodical process to deal with illegal...
More Stories