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Using GOES Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) Imagery in AWIPS




Archived Training

Severe Satellite





This session will focus on how to obtain GOES RSO data and utilize it in AWIPS to assist with the forecast decision making process.

The objectives of this training session are:

  • Describe the GOES RSO capability
  • Explain the procedure for requesting RSO imagery
  • Identify conditions for calling a RSO
  • Use RSO effectively

Training Session Options

  1. VISITview playback without Audio – You may step through the VISITview file on your own to view the presentation. If talking points are available, you may use these in tandem with going through the slides.

    Create a directory to download the playback file from the following site:

    After extracting the files into that directory click on the visitlocal.bat file to start the lesson. Advance slides on your own using the navigation controls (i.e., the Next button will advance to the next slide)

Talking Points

Talking Points








Why ?

Motivation for the training. 

AWIPS GOES imagery actually gets there in ~8 minutes in RSO….fastest ever.



Ask each office if they’ve ever called a RSO session. 

Some offices thought RSO was only for severe convective weather.



Prestorm & warning environments…. May 3rd (’99) – forecasters looking at each sat image for initiation…but forgot to call RSO.

5Importance of RSO“There are some significant meteorological events that occur on timescales less than 10 minutes.”


GOES-East Routine Mode

Covers larger satellite sector domains than RSO.


GOES-East Actual Routine Sectors


GOES-East Rapid Scan Mode

Showtext link goes to NOAASIS page – GOES Dissemination Schedule.


GOES-West Routine Mode

Note the schedule offset from GOES-East.


GOES-West Actual Routine Sectors 


GOES-West Rapid Scan Mode

Link goes to NOAASIS page – GOES Dissemination Schedule.


GOES-East Volcano Sector

Monitor ash clouds as aviation hazards.


GOES-West Hawaii RSO Sector 

Alaska RSO sector is also available.



Plan to autotrigger under review at NCEP. One impact of calling RSO is the 00Z winds model assimilation.


GOES RSO Start Times

RSO request- time until activation and start times of each satellite.


RSO Delivery Times

How long does it take the RSO imagery to get to your AWIPS and get displayed?  Mention GOES image time is when the first line begins scanning


RSO and other WFOs 

All offices ingesting data from a particular GOES get RSO when it is called for that satellite.  More images means shorter loop sequences unless the number of frames are increased. Link goes to VISIT GOES FAQ page



This directory on AWIPS tells you which satellite is selected as your primary GOES ingest. Ask any offices that could use either if they know which one is selected.


AWIPS RSO Products

AWIPS Satellite products are available for CONUS and smaller domains in RSO.


AWIPS RSO Derived Products 

Locally derived satellite products (eg. fog product) also available in RSO


Mesoscale changes with Synoptic Systems

RSO Applications


Departing Nor’easter IR-radar 25 Feb 99

Place arrow initially on the southern coast of Massachusetts. Snow dissipation along the western edge evident on IR imagery before radar. What features can you see ?

A) Satellite imagery shows warming cloud top temperatures before dissipation is evident in the radar reflectivity

B) Deformation Zone

C) Dissipation of snow in western half of region.

D) Satellite shows warming cloud tops as precipitation is ending.

E) Satellite offers extension of data

beyond radar range.

F) Low-level convection- SE NY/

SW CT snow band.

23Hurricane BretHurricane Bret Loop showing mature storm with well-developed eye while still over water. RSO called by SR HQ showed initial stages of eye formation (from Ken Waters).


Mesoscale RSO Applications

Some phenomena that can be seen. Others ?


4-panel Great Lakes 14 Nov 95

Point out use of other channels, use more than just visible imagery (especially at night…switch to fog/stratus product).  LES regional scale images are non-RSO.


RSO Great Lakes Visible 14 Nov 95

Lake-effect case that shows better continuity of features. 

1) E. Huron Snowbands

2) IN/OH Cu/snow

3) Cloud field develops downwind

     of snow field

4) Favorable shear profile over 

    Lake Huron for multiple bands

5) Mesoscale lows over the lakes

6) Snowcover in WI

7) Clouds over snow

Infer shear by snowband type:

Single Band: < 30° of directional shear from the BL to 700mb

Multiple Bands: 30-60° of directional shear from the BL to 700 mb

Note – Greater than 60° of directional shear from the BL to 700 mb is detrimental for lake-effect snowband development

 Cloud field develops beyond snow cover. Meso-low features over Lakes Superior and Michigan; radars seldom detect these shallow features.


15-minute Visible – 8 April 1998 

15- minute loop. Ask for description of features.

A) Boundary in N. AL

B) Regional scale cloud

     cover(SE)/clear (NW)

C) Organized convective lines

D) Developing squall line NE MS

E) Splitting storm NW GA

F) Changes in Cu growth/coverage

G) Boundaries and their motions


RSO Southeast Loop – 8 April 1998

Point out northward moving boundary that played a key role in the Birmingham tornado. Boundary also seen on radar, BHM prepared for this.  Noted that F5 started as boundary interacted with existing tornadic storm.


IR Southeast Loop – 8 Apr 98 

RSO IR imagery for 8 April 1998 tornado case. Show usefullness of IR imagery (Enhanced-V signature), keep the RSO going well into the night if conditions warrant. (Refer to Enhanced-V training) Ask if the Enhanced-V can be seen and what it’s implications are.


Fade of Visible and IR4 – 8 Apr 98

Show usefulness in AWIPS of being able to combine satellite imagery (also useful for radar). Show fader – fade, animate, rock. Examine appearance of boundary and cloud features in VIS and 10.7 um IR.


Fade of Visible and IR2 – 8 Apr 98

This is the VIS/3.9um fader.  Notice the similarities and detail in the lower (warmer) clouds. 3.9um is not affected by the water vapor attenuation at 10.7 um.


Fade of the IR2 and IR4 

8 Apr 98

Use IR imagery at night to follow severe t-storms.  Can see low cloud information with enhanced IR imagery or derived products.

IR-Cloud tops

IR2/Fog-stratus- shows low clouds verus surface better than IR (10.7um)


17 May 1996 1km Visible Imagery

Nebraska – dryline boundary with wave near location of storm initiation.  

1) Draw CF from NE NE-Central NE

2) Possibility of a wave near Hastings


17 May 1996

Initiation on Satellite and Radar Boundaries

17 May 1996 case, Grand Island, Nebraska radar with remapped 1km visible imagery (AWIPS-like). Visible imagery shows the first boundary to the east is not as important as it may appear on radar alone, deeper clouds on the western line. Note “extension of radar-range information” in east boundary with more clouds to the south.

A) These are 2 boundaries- not one (versus previous loop)

B) There is not a wave on the CF (initially)

C) Eastern-most boundary looks most intense on radar- but satellite shows no clouds

D) Radar/satellite shows splitting storm 

E) Use radar and satellite to compensate for the “cone of silence”


Stormscale Applications


17 May 1996 – Storm Splitting

17 May 1996 case. Are 2 different overshooting tops observable ? Storm splitting is evident on visible imagery before radar reflectivity. 18 minutes before upper-level scan and 10 minutes before mid-level scan. These details evolve in short time frames. 


31 May 1996 RSO and SRSO

1) CO storm forms on Palmer Lake Divide and moves SE toward a convergence line. (Refer to LTO session for outflow boundary evolution)

2) Point out how quickly outflow/RFD develops from the supercell in eastern CO. 

3) Orphan anvil travelling north dissipates.  (Apparently due to storm-scale subsidence)

4) Point out other storm’s outflow interaction N ans E of CO storm. Low cloud feature SE of CO storm at 224514 is associated with a 70kt storm outflow according to storm data.

5) Convergence of low cloud and flanking line results in F2 tornado within 5 minutes after the interaction (storm chase video). 

6) Also note structure of overshooting tops – qualitative assessment of divergence and back building anvils. 

7) Explain SRSO- can show important storm-scale features.

38Miscellaneous uses of RSO


GOES Assessment Convective Initiation Feedback

29 March 1998 case. Development of a storm in Iowa along some boundary that moved into La Crosse CWA. Feeder bands in northeast Iowa with that storm. More stable stratiform region further north in Wisconsin. Watch for storms in the moist sector where more Cu is present.


ARX RSO Visible Loop

1) Draw WF, CF, Low, and DL

2) Eastern IA MCS forms- moves NE. SW view of storm shows “feeder bands” -a possible severe weather indicator.

MCS moved across WF and storms dissipate. Imagery shows warm front position and weakening of feeder bands.

3) Warm-sector does not have homogeneous cloud cover

4) Storms initiate over Council Bluffs,  IA- then move into deeper moisture and develop further.

5) Triple-point storm initiation


G/A RSO Use After Initiation


Case study- RSO in Warning Decision Making

Link goes to the Cheyenne case, RSO used in warning decision making.


Other examples of using GOES RSO by WFOs

Link goes to Western Region RSO GOES Assessment – shows many examples.


2 September 98 Los Angeles radar

Note thunderstorms along the higher terrain east of LA. A boundary extends from the storms on the high terrain towards Los Angeles. Later in the loop the storms develop near LA, the storms made the radars go down just after 22:30 UTC


2 September 98 IR

Thunderstorms developed on the high terrain initially, then dissipated as new storms developed in the Los Angeles area.


2 September 98 IR and Visible imagery

After the initial activity southeast of LA weakens, new storms develop northwest of the city and form an outflow on their southeast flank (see arc cloud line in vis imagery). The storms are most intense near the intersecting boundaries on the north end of the arc cloud line. The WSR-88D’s went down during this time due to severe weather. An RSO was called DURING the event (and started after 00Z). Calling an RSO before the event would’ve showed the new thunderstorm development over Los Angeles associated with intersecting boundaries with better continuity while the radars were down.


2 September 98 Los Angeles radar

Radar imagery after it came back online (the severe weather caused an outage). By the time the radar is back up the storms are weakening as they move towards the ocean.


GOES Assessment Feedback



RSO Conclusions I


RSO Conclusions II

Link goes to RSO student guide on VISIT homepage


On-station Training Exercise

52About SRSO and AWIPS


Shows why not to view RSO imagery on the CONUS scale

This course is Basic

There are no prerequisites


Dan Bikos

Page Contact

Bernie Connell


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