When I watched this video, my jaw dropped.
It shows five days worth of tornado creating super-cell thunderstorms. These storms generated tornadoes in Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Indiana.
This animation includes a satellite view from space of the powerful line of storms that created the Joplin, Missouri EF-5 tornado with wind speeds of 200mph or more. That tornado hit on May 22, 2011 and was one of the deadliest in U.S. history.
Here’s What You’re Seeing On The NASA Video Of Thunderstorms and Tornadoes From Space
It’s going to look like wildfires putting smoke into the sky. But the sudden bursts of white are thunderstorms exploding into earth’s atmosphere. The higher the storms climb, the colder the cloud tops become and the brighter white they are to a satellite. Often, the colder those cloud tops, the more powerful the storms have become.
The specific timing on this NASA storm animation from space:
- The scroll bar at the bottom of the video keeps time with a ‘countdown’ clock at the bottom of this video.
- When the scroll bar shows :52 left on the clock, you’ll see the line of storms that generated the Joplin, Missouri tornado suddenly forming on May 22, 2011.
- When the scroll bar timer shows :47 the storms are exploding and the Joplin, Missouri tornado is likely on the ground.
- Shortly after this, the powerful thunderstorms create more tornadoes and lots more damage as they move across Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.
- When the scroll bar clock reaches :29 look to the far left of the screen. That’s the start of another deadly round of storms on May 24, 2011.
- When the scroll bar reaches :27 you are seeing those May 24, 2011 storms explode and create killer tornadoes across Oklahoma (including the Oklahoma city area tornadoes), Kansas and Arkansas.
How Was This Video Created?
The credit goes to team members on the NASA/NOAA GOES Project. NOAA (the parent of the National Weather Service) operates what are known as GOES satellites. These are a series of satellites and each one focuses on a certain part of the globe.
Theyare also the satellites that make it possible for TV weather people across the country to put on a weather-cast that shows you the next developing storm.
GOES-13 focuses on about the eastern half of the U.S. (more or less) and in a situation like this, NOAA records the images and then NASA’s super computers turn them into movies that show just how powerful the storms on earth appear–even from outer space.
More than that, though, animations like this will help severe weather researchers better understand the development and explosive components of the storms that generated so many deadly tornadoes in the spring of 2011.
And that could save lives for generations to come.