Weather Satellites and Utah
Weather satellites are a crucial tool for observing the weather. They provide a global view that complements land-based systems, such as radiosondes and weather radars.
They are used to monitor weather, fires, city lights, ice mapping, ocean boundaries and energy flows. Their images are also a life-saver when it comes to firefighting, with thermal and infrared scanners helping to detect potential fire sources beneath the surface of the Earth.
Weather satellites provide valuable information about a wide variety of atmospheric phenomena. For example, they can measure cloud coverage and generate animated graphics that show the progression of weather in real time. The technology also enables meteorologists to identify El Nino events and the Antarctic ozone hole, and track snowfall in the mountains.
Several different types of weather satellites are in orbit around the Earth at any given time. They range in altitude from a few miles to more than 36 miles above the surface. A few of them are designed to capture images at night, which can be helpful in identifying fires and city lights. A few also use high-resolution imagers to take pictures of the moon.
The United States’s Department of Defense’s DMSP is capable of “seeing” the planet with its 450-mile-high (720 km) equatorial satellite’s night visual sensor. The resulting images can be used to identify fires, lightning, and other interesting occurrences, including oil field burn-offs and the Aurora Borealis in the north.
Aside from the big picture, meteorological satellites can also be used to track and map smaller objects that are of interest to scientists, such as tornadoes, hurricanes and hail. In addition, they can monitor the movement of ice floes, packs and bergs that help to control water flows in mountainous regions, and measure snowpacks vital to hydrologist’s keeping track of runoff.
The state’s four major television channels – KUTV, KSL, ABC4 and FOX13 – often feature local weather reports and forecasts. You can also check out a wide array of webcams, message boards and in-road and roadside sensors to get a glimpse into Utah’s weather. The state’s Traffic Operations Center can also provide a plethora of roadway information, as well as traffic and crash data to help keep you safe on the road.
Utah is one of the most fire-prone states in the country. The state has more than 800 to 1,000 wildfires per year, and many of them are human-caused.
A number of fires have erupted in the state this week, including the Jacob City Fire and the Eagle Mountain Fire. These blazes are spreading across large swaths of land and have prompted evacuations for several communities, according to the National Weather Service.
Smoke and ash from the fires drifted into Salt Lake County on Saturday, affecting concertgoers like Stacey Clark, who was at the USANA Amphitheater for an REO Speedwagon, Styx and Loveboy show. The smoke also affected air quality and caused Salt Lake County’s air quality index to go up above unhealthy levels for sensitive groups, according to the Utah Department of Health.
While there is no immediate threat to life and property in the state, firefighters are working hard to contain the fires as quickly as possible. They are using helicopters, fire engines and water tankers to help them do their job.
Fire officials are urging people to follow the rules for avoiding wildfires on public lands and to be cautious of fire danger during the warm, dry weather. They are also urging people to use their fire sense to prevent a wildfire from starting in the first place.
The Fire Management Bureau also reminds the public to stay away from flammable materials on public lands and to always put out campfires before leaving them unattended. This includes removing all flammable materials, such as leaves and pine needles, before going to bed at night.
Moreover, the agency urges everyone to stay out of sagebrush, brush and other fire-prone areas. This will help prevent fires from igniting and spread quickly, said a statement released by the agency.
It is also important to note that many wildfires are ignited by lightning strikes. These can occur in remote locations or even on a busy highway, and they are difficult to control.
The state has created a Catastrophic Wildfire Reduction Strategy, which was adopted by the legislature in 2016. This initiative aims to reduce the number of wildfires in Utah through the restoration of landscapes, suppression of fires and the development of fire-adapted communities. It also has created a Fire Reduction Fund, which is leveraged with other federal and state funds as well as private sector funds.
Weather satellites are capable of taking a picture every five to 15 minutes, and producing an animation that tells you what the resulting picture looks like in the context of your local surroundings. The best part is it’s free. And the results are available to you in seconds flat via the Weather Channel app or website.
It’s no secret that the skies over Utah are often unnervingly dark for much of the year. This is because the Earth’s atmosphere is filled with moisture from the tropics, and it’s constantly being pulled into Utah by atmospheric rivers. And while these weather events can bring a whole host of bad stuff from mudslides to a flurry of high-elevation snow, they are usually benign and provide the ol’ state of Utah with something that is important to all lifeforms: water.
As for the most dazzling nighttime show, we’re not sure whether or not it was a blizzard, an ice storm, or even a light snow. The good news is that we’re expecting clearer weather by mid-week. Check out the latest weather forecasts here, and be sure to follow the Weather Channel on Facebook and Twitter for all your weather needs. And don’t forget to sign up for the Good4Utah newsletter!
Several winter storms are expected to impact Utah over the next few days, with forecasts of up to 6 inches of snow in valley areas. The heaviest snowfall is expected to fall in the mountains and southern Utah, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm that’s expected to arrive Saturday is slated to bring anywhere from 8 inches to 2 feet of snow to mountainous areas. It’s also apt to bring a dusting of snow to the Wasatch Front, according to the weather service.
This comes after Utah experienced its 14th-coldest November on record, 5.4 degrees below average. The cold weather came at a time when the state was already below normal for snowpack levels, with the snowpack only about 25% of its average amount.
While this may not be the most ideal situation for the state, a strong winter can help boost water supplies. About 95% of the state’s water supply is derived from snowpack collection and spring snowmelt, so a winter that keeps Utah’s snowpack at its highest level could aid the state in dealing with the ongoing drought.
Another winter storm is brewing for the western two-thirds of the country, with snow and rain forecasted to hit Thursday and Friday. The snow and rain could be accompanied by winds that will create dangerous driving conditions and lowered visibility, the weather service warns.
Snow is expected to fall in the mountains throughout the weekend and into the beginning of next week. The storm is forecast to bring anywhere from 12 to 18 inches of fresh powder to the tallest peaks, with the most accumulation in the central and southern Rockies.
The snow is apt to continue into Wednesday, when the snow will gradually taper off and end throughout the northern Rockies and Great Basin. Snow will also taper off or end across the Four Corners region of the United States and into parts of the Front Range and central High Plains of the West.
By midweek, the storm will push eastward, bringing snow or a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain to parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes, along with showers and thunderstorms. The system will then move into the Northeast by early next week.