New Age in Weather Forecasting Begins with Spectacular 1st Images from NASA/NOAA GOES-16 Observatory

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – A new age has begun in the nations weather forecasting capabilities with the release today (Jan. 23) of the spectacular first images gathered by the recently launched NASA/NOAA GOES-16 observatory.

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Atlas V Fire and Fury Get Gorgeous GOES-R to Geostationary Orbit; Photo/Video Gallery

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The fire and fury of the mighty Atlas V got the gorgeous NASA/NOAA GOES-R weather observatory to geostationary orbit just days ago – as a ‘Thanksgiving’ present to all the people of Earth through the combined efforts of the government/industry/university science and engineering teams of hard working folks who made it possible.

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Revolutionary NASA/NOAA GOES-R Geostationary Weather Satellite Awesome Night Launch

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – GOES-R, the first in a new series of revolutionary NASA/NOAA geostationary weather satellites blasted off on an awesome nighttime launch to orbit this evening from the Florida Space Coast. Liftoff of the highly advanced Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) weather observatory bolted atop a ULA Atlas V rocket came at […]

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Sunset Saturday Blastoff of GOES-R Set to Deliver Quantum Leap in Weather Forecasting on Nov. 19 – Watch Live

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – From both the technical and weather standpoint, the outlook is outstanding for Saturdays sunset blastoff of the NASA/NOAA GOES-R geostationary weather observation satellite that’s set to deliver a ‘quantum leap’ in weather forecasting on Nov. 19.

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In the Cleanroom with Game Changing GOES-R Next Gen Weather Satellite – Launching Nov. 19

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – After an ironic detour due to Hurricane Matthew, liftoff of the game changing NASA/NOAA next generation GOES-R geostationary weather observation satellite offering a “dramatic leap in capability” is finally on track for this weekend on Nov. 19 from the Florida Space Coast.

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Launch of GOES-R Transformational Weather Satellite Likely Delayed by Hurricane Matthew

Next month’s launch of GOES-R – a new and advanced transformational weather satellite that will vastly enhance the quality, speed of accuracy of weather forecasting – will likely be delayed a few days due to lingering storm related effects of deadly Hurricane Matthew on launch preparations at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Kennedy […]

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Imminent Impact of Deadly Cat 4 Hurricane Matthew Forces Closure of Kennedy Space Center and Mass Coastal Evacuations

Cat 4 Hurricane Matthew track during the late evening of 6 Oct 2016.  Credit: NASA/NOAA

The imminent impact of the already deadly Category 4 Hurricane Matthew along the Florida Space Coast tonight, Thursday, October 6, has forced the closure of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and mass evacuations along the US East coast from Florida, to Georgia to the Carolinas.

“Hurricane Matthew, currently an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, continues to bear down on the southeastern United States,” says NASA in an update today.

NASA has closed KSC for today and tomorrow, at a minimum and the center has entered HurrCon 1 status.

“Under the current storm track, peak winds are forecast to be 125 mph sustained with gusts to 150 mph, however a shift in the track even slightly could improve the wind forecast somewhat,” wrote NASA’s Brian Dunbar.

“The Kennedy Space Center is closed today, Oct. 6, and Friday for Hurricane Matthew. Kennedy Space Center is now in HurrCon 1 status, meaning a hurricane is imminent.”

The Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast is home to the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) – the most well know building at NASA – as well as Launch Complex’s 39 A and B which launched American astronauts to Moon and thereafter Space Shuttles for three decades.

“Across the spaceport, essential personnel are preparing facilities for the storm’s arrival,” according to George Diller, NASA Kennedy Space Center Public Affairs Officer.

“Hurricane Matthew is expected to make its closest approach to the Cape Canaveral/Kennedy area overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, bringing with it the potential for heavy rain, storm surge and hurricane-force winds.”

Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on the US East Coast right now at Florida’s Peninsula and is tracking north.

Herein is the latest satellite imagery from NASA and NOAA of this evening.

Mass evacuations have been ordered and States of Emergencies declared by the Governors of Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina.

The high winds, storm surge of potentially 5 to 11 feet, and extensive flooding is expected to cause massive damage and devastation to homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Hundreds of thousands of folks have left their home over the past 2 days. Many gas stations are dry and grocery store shelves emptied.

Matthew will cause a wide swath of destruction and potentially deaths along hundreds of miles of US shoreline and inland areas as the massive storm hugs the coast like none before in recorded history.

Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of folks are expected to lose power as well, for days and perhaps weeks.

Hundreds of deaths and massive destruction in Haita, Cuba and elsewhere in the Caribbean can already be blamed on Hurricane Matthew – a storm like none other and by far the worst since Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.

After the storm passes KSC will evaluate all its facilities.

“Once the storm has passed, center facilities and infrastructure will be assessed and employees will be cleared to return when it is safe to do so,” Diller.

Indeed NASA was preparing to launch America’s newest and most advanced weather satellite on Nov 4. It’s named GOES-R and was slated for blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a ULA Atlas V on Nov. 4.

The launch facilities will have to be thoroughly inspected before the launch can proceed.

The satellite is in the final stages of preparation at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility in Titusville, FL as I recently observed during an up close visit in the High Bay cleanroom.

Titusville and Astrotech could suffer a direct hit from Matthew. But the satellite has been secured.

Here is the latest Advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) as of 8 PM EDT Oct 6.

At 800 PM EDT (0000 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Matthew was located over the western end of Grand Bahama Island near latitude 26.6 North, longitude 78.9 West. The hurricane is moving toward the northwest near 13 mph (20 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue tonight with a turn toward the north-northwest early Friday. On the forecast track, the eye of Matthew should move away from Grand Bahama Island during the next few hours, and move close to or over the east coast of the Florida peninsula through Friday night.

Reports from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are now near 130 mph (210 km/h) with higher gusts.Matthew is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely while the hurricane moves toward the coast of Florida.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km). Settlement Point in the Bahamas recently reported a sustained wind of 79 mph (128 km/h) with a gust of 105 mph (169 km/hr). The Lake Worth Pier near Palm Beach, Florida, recently reported a sustained wind of 46 mph (74 km/h) and a wind gust of 60 mph (96 km/h).

The minimum central pressure estimated from NOAA Hurricane Hunter data is 939 mb (27.73 inches).

…….

The latest weather briefing indicates that “tropical storm force winds beginning at Cape Canaveral tonight at midnight with hurricane force winds starting at starting about 6 a.m.

A hurricane ride-out crew of 116 has arrived at KSC this evening to prepare for Matthew.

“All facilities at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station have been secured.”

SpaceX is currently renovating and refurbishing pad 39A to launch their commercial Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets as well the Crew Dragon with astronauts on mission to the ISS.

The eye of the storm is barreling towards KSC at this moment. Stay tuned for the outcome.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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Snowzilla’s East Coast Blast Captured as ‘Rare Thundersnow’ by Scott Kelly on Station and Moonlit from Suomi Satellite

Rare #thundersnow visible from @Space_Station in #blizzard2016!  Jan. 23, 2016. Credit: NASA/Scott Kelly/@StationCDRKelly

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly captured a rare and spectacular display of ‘thundersnow’ from space as Snowzilla’s blast pummeled much of the US East Coast this weekend with two feet or more of paralyzing snow from the nations’ capital to New York City and beyond.

Meanwhile the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP Earth orbiting satellite almost simultaneously snapped an eerie image of the East Coast bathed in Moonlight as the ‘Blizzard of 2016’ battered over 85 million residents in 20 states across the East Coast.

The Suomi NPP satellite image of the massive winter storm system pummeling the eastern United States was taken at 2:15 a.m. EST on Jan. 23 by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).

Kelly captured the spectacular ‘thundersnow’ photo on Saturday, Jan. 23, from his perch aboard the International Space Station (ISS) that approached or set snowfall accumulation records in many major metropolitan areas from the mid Atlantic to the Northeast corridor.

“Rare #thundersnow visible from @Space_Station in #blizzard2016! #Snowzilla #snowmaggedon2016,” Kelly tweeted with a chance shot on Jan 23, 2016.

Because from one moment to the next the “rare thundersnow” vanished from sight – see comparison photos above and below.

“Massive #snowstorm blanketing #EastCoast clearly visible from @Space_Station! Stay safe! #blizzard2016,” Kelly tweeted with a photo earlier on Saturday from a similar vantage point.

Kelly has just passed Day 300 of his historic “1Year ISS Mission” aboard the outpost and is conducting hundreds of experiments aimed at paving the way for multi-year expeditions to the Red Planet.

The Suomi NPP satellite image “was composed through the use of the VIIRS “day-night band,” which detects faint light signals such as city lights, moonlight, airglow, and auroras. In the image, the clouds are lit from above by the nearly full Moon and from below by the lights of the heavily populated East Coast. The city lights are blurred in places by cloud cover.”

Record tides caused extensive flooding, beach erosion and property destruction along a wide section of the Jersey shore. Some areas suffered catastrophic destruction even worse than Hurricane Sandy.

Many airports were closed and are only slowly reopening, wreaking havoc on the air transport system. More than 13,000 flights have been canceled so far since Friday, Jan. 22.

The storm lasted into Sunday, Jan. 24, causing at least 45 deaths.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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