Watch Lightning Strike the Earth from Outer Space

Lightning strikes throughout the Western Hemisphere during a one-hour period on Feb. 14 2017

As a result, this data gives forecasters more time to warn the public about severe storms.

This is one hour of GOES-16's Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) lightning data from February 14, when GLM acquired 1.8 million images of the Earth.

NASA released video and pictures Monday taken by GOES-16 using its Geostationary Lightning Mapper instrument showing lightning over southeast Texas recorded on February 14. The mapper continually looks for lightning flashes in the Western Hemisphere, so forecasters know when a storm is intensifying and becoming more unsafe.

A new weather satellite promises to deliver unprecedented data on Earth's lightning, and it has already captured its first spectacular images of storms from space. Brighter colors show where more lightning energy was recorded, with the most intense storm system located over the Gulf Coast of Texas on that particular day.

But this is not the only imagery from GOES-16 in recent weeks to astonish meteorologists.

When combined with radar and other satellite data, this data should help forecasters anticipate heavy rain and issue flood and flash flood warnings sooner.

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"Rapid increases of lightning are a signal that a storm is strengthening quickly and could produce severe weather", the agency said in a press release.

The instrument is the first to observe lightning from geostationary orbit, which means it is always observing the same part of Earth. GOES-16 is now observing the planet from an equatorial view approximately 22,300 miles above the surface of the Earth.

Pinpointing exactly where and when these risky bolts hit the Earth is key for forecasting severe weather outbreaks.

In dry areas, such as the western United States, the instrument could also help to identify areas prone to lightning-induced wildfires. Beukel noted that the instrument is also monitoring cloud-to-cloud lightning for the first time.

Combining the forces of two GOES-16 instruments, the Advanced Baseline Imager, or ABI, for cloud imaging and the never-before used lightning mapper - forecasters will be able alert people of developing threats. Current lightning detection networks in widespread use only track cloud-to-ground lightning strikes and can only detect lightning a few hundred miles offshore.

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