Case Study: When Will that Storm Arrive?

Storm Systems as Seen from Space

Hurricane Irene makes Landfall in North Carolina. August, 27, 2011. Click image for a larger view. Source: NASA Goddard Photostream.
Everyday weather has a significant influence on our lives. How we dress, how much time we spend outside, and sometimes even how we feel can all have some relationship to the weather. Larger storm systems have an even greater impact on us, ranging from the inconvenience of shoveling snow, to the devastation that accompanies flooding, hurricanes, or tornadoes.

You have probably seen the animations of swirling cloud patterns on television. These satellite images provide meteorologists with essential information about the weather. Did you know that you too can use the same satellite images to build your own animations? In this chapter, you will learn about the weather satellites thousands of miles from Earth that help us understand the large-scale weather patterns and how they effect our local weather. You will also learn how to create animations using satellite images. Finally, you will use a software tool, ImageJ, that allows you to determine the speed and direction of a major storm system. To practice animating and measuring, you will track the movement of Hurricane Ivan as it moved across the Gulf of Mexico and into Mobile Bay in September 2004.