Satellites give a bird's eye view of derecho storm, aftermath
By By Scott Dance
Jul 06, 2012 | 10:18 AM
A NASA animation created here in Maryland gives a view from space of the massive derecho storm that tore across the state a week ago tonight.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's GOES-13 satellite, which monitors weather systems in the eastern U.S., captured the images. Scientists with NASA's GOES Project, which stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, compiled them into an animation at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.
The animation shows the storm forming around northern Illinois and Indiana and then gaining in size and intensity as it moves southeastward to Maryland.
Joe Witte, a meteorologist in Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, Va., who explained the images to NASA scientists, describes the winds associated with the storm succinctly: They came from the rapid forward speed of the storms and from downbursts, severe gusts of wind caused by cooled air high up in storm clouds rapidly falling because it's denser than the hot, steamy air around it.
NASA meanwhile shared some other fascinating images showing more of the storm's impact. ItsSuomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellites captured views of nighttime lights across Maryland, both before and after the storm knocked out power to 1.1 million people across the state.