Using GOES-16 to Provide Critical Decision Support Services in the Wake of Major Hurricane Maria (244)

Chris Birchfield, National Weather Service, Brownsville, TX

Joshua Schroeder, National Weather Service

Christina BarrĂ³n, National Weather Service

 

Abstract:

 

Using GOES-16 to Provide Critical Decision Support Services in the Wake of Major Hurricane Maria

Christopher D. Birchfield, and Joshua J. Schroeder

NOAA/National Weather Service, Brownsville TX

Christina R. Barr&oacuten

NOAA/National Weather Service, Corpus Christi, TX

Hurricane Maria caused catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands just two weeks after Hurricane Irma devastated much of the northeast Caribbean. Upon Maria's landfall on the southeast side of Puerto Rico, the Doppler Radar was rendered inoperable. Strong winds also took down the local NWS office's communication lines, in addition to the majority of the islands' automated surface observations.

In order to continue the NWS's mission of protecting life and property, several forecasters were deployed to NWS Miami to perform complete backup operations for NWS San Juan. The new GOES-16 satellite provided critical information for decision support services, especially for convective warning operations, while radar imagery was not available. With fewer tools available, data were essential for predicting strong convection in real-time, using several of the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) bands. Overlaying global lightning data with 1-minute imagery allowed forecasters to make difficult warning decisions despite a serious lack of ground truth. Our presentation will show archived satellite data to display the advantage of higher-resolution images, and we will discuss lessons learned from this exercise when it comes to forecasting and emergency management decision making.