For meteorologists monitoring tropical cyclones, it is important to be able to analyze and monitor trends in tropical cyclone intensity to deliver the best possible forecast. New technologies have enabled meteorologists to receive critical data in near real-time. The GOES-16 satellite can have designated mesoscale sectors which provide improved temporal resolution (30-60 second image updates vs. 5-15 minute updates). These mesoscale sectors were used during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Ground-based lightning location systems detect and locate lightning events at even faster time scales. Both of these technologies are useful to tropical meteorologists, as identifying areas of strong convection, including over the open ocean away from Doppler radar, can improve intensity and impact forecasts.
Using these two technologies together can provide a complete picture of convective activity within a tropical cyclone. Here, we revisit Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and overlay Vaisala National Lightning Detection Network precision lightning data (Harvey) and GLD360 global lightning data (Irma and Maria) on GOES-16 satellite imagery and examine how using these two technologies can improve awareness of a tropical cyclone’s intensity and potential impacts in near real-time.