Satellite Imagery Covering Colorado

During June, July, and August, we are archiving GOES-8 data over Colorado in support of the STERAO-A Project. This page is intended to illustrate the coverage area of the data archive and to show some examples of imagery collected during this period. This page is not intended to present a daily summary of STERAO-A activity or present real-time imagery. Real-time imagery, howevery, is available (see below).

Before being archived, the incoming imagery is remapped to a Cartesian latitude-longitude grid to facilitate data exchange and analysis. At present, the following information items or examples are available:

Coverage Windows for Data Archive
Rapid Scan Data (1 minute interval !)
Explosive Afternoon Development
Smoke from Western Slope Brush Fires
DATA ARCHIVE: The images available on this page are taken from a digital archive of the visible and IR imagery that is being maintained by MMM in support of the ongoing STERAO-A program. This archive consists of full resolution digital data for all 5 imagery channels broadcast by the GOES-8 satellite. The data is being archived in our receiving system's native format, Terascan Data Format (TDF). For information about this data archive, contact David Johnson at NCAR/MMM (

REAL TIME DATA: Current high resolution imagery over Colorado collected by the NCAR GOES-8 receiving system is available via Greg Thompson's weather page, maintained by RAP.

Coverage Windows for the STERAO-A Data Archive

For the STERAO-A data archive, a relatively large coverage window was selected in order to provide a general picture of the regional mesoscale environment and to permit support of a couple of piggy-back projects. The coverage domain stretches from the western shore of the Great Salt Lake across eastern Utah and Colorado, and into Kansas. On the north, it extends to the Wyoming/Montana border and to the south it extends into northern Arizona and New Mexico. The following illustration shows a terrain elevation map of the coverage area. State borders are drawn in yellow, while latitude and longitude lines are drawn in brown (1 degree intervals).

CAPTION: The darker areas correspond to lower elevations and lighter to higher. The dark region on the right corresponds to the plains, with the Arkansas, South Platte, and North Platte River basins showing up clearly. The Grand Canyon and Colorado River are prominant features in the southwest.

The following two images show examples of visible and IR imagery from the archive. PLEASE NOTE that the actual archive is maintained as digital data files in TDF format and that the gif images presented here are only intended to illustrate the size and coverage of the data windows. Although the areal coverage of the visible and infrared data sets are exactly the same, the visible data is archived a 1 km resolution while the infrared data is archived at 4 km resolution.

Sample Visible Image, 1000x832 (299 k for this example)

Sample Infrared Image, 250x208 (37 k for this example)

GOES-8 Rapid Scan Data from June 22

On Saturday, June 22, GOES-8 was placed into its Super Rapid Scan mode, with imagery over a Midwestern window being updated every minute. The 1-min scans are ususlly restricted to short bursts of imagery followed by a temporary return to more normal scan sequences to support the broad base of operational data users. On June 22, Colorado was on the western edge of such a Rapid Scan window. The following animations show a 8 minute sequence, giving a detailed look at a brief time segment in the life of two large convective storms over Eastern Colorado and Wyoming.

Animation Loop #1 , visible imagery (236 k)

Animation Loop #2 , visible imagery (208 k)

Afternoon Thunderstorms on June 24

On Monday afternoon, June 24, there was a sudden transition from small, isolated cumulus clouds to a few large thunderstorms. This animation loop shows the cloud development during this period of explosive growth.

animation loop , visible imagery (582 k)

WARNING: Very large file to download!

Smoke Plumes from Brush Fires on June 24

At the same time that convection was breaking out over the eastern slope of the rockies, afternoon heat and southerly winds caused the flare up of a number of brush fires on the western slope. Two fires were located just south of the Great Salt Lake in Utah and one near the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona.

animation loop , visible imagery (795 k)

WARNING: Very large file to download!

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National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Questions or comments? Contact David B. Johnson at
last updated, 6/28/96