Editor's note: Aaron Brodie is an independent journalist who freelances for CNN and TornadoVideos.net. He covers various stories for CNN and its networks, and he is working with TVNWeather.com to produce episodes of an upcoming online reality series.
Hurry up and wait: surely, that must be the official slogan of storm chasers who race from one side of Tornado Alley to the other, only to wait, and wait, and wait, to see the awesome power of nature.
That has certainly been the case for the TornadoVideos.net team these past few days. Reed Timmer, whom you may know from the TV show "Storm Chasers," led us from Norman, Oklahoma, to the Texas Panhandle on Sunday, where we spent hours waiting for a storm to boil up into something worth chasing.
As it became clear the Panhandle was a bust, some members of the team argued for heading southeast to intercept storms in Oklahoma, while others wanted to drive north into Kansas. While we were blasting north to Kansas, which turned out to be a bust as well, the storms in Oklahoma produced a handful of tornadoes.
"This is the day before the day," Timmer and other team members proclaimed, referring to the predictions of a bigger chase on Monday. "We gave it 100 percent and that's all we can do,” Timmer reassured the team. The drive to home base in Norman was filled with a mixture of hope and disappointment.
After this week's massive storm system, which spawned tornadoes that killed 12 people, you might appreciate this: NASA and NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) have teamed up to launch a new GOES weather monitoring satellite: the GOES-R series, which will help warn people about severe weather sooner.
GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite. As they orbit Earth, the satellites monitor atmospheric conditions. They're basically fixed in place over a single spot on the planet, with a wide-angle view, collecting data around the clock. This lets meteorologists identify triggers for severe weather like hurricanes, flash floods, hailstorms and tornadoes.
GOES-R series satellites will be loaded with state-of-the-art instrumentation, and the launch of the first is expected in 2015, according to a NASA news release. The satellite will be able to better monitor conditions that are often precursors to tornadoes, like changes in lightning. And with the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), NASA and NOAA will be able to monitor and map lightning in real time across the Western Hemisphere.