Good News! GOES-17 Problem Not As Bad As Feared

6pm Tuesday

It appears what could have been a major problem for future West Coast satellite imagery has been turned into a minor issue…we hope.

The first of a new series of advanced geostationary weather satellites was launched last year.  It was named GOES-16.  After a period of testing, it was moved into the GOES-EAST position off the USA east coast last December.  These new satellites have far greater temporal and spatial resolution, plus a bunch of new sensors with new capabilities.

In early March a sister satellite, GOES-17 was launched.  The plan is for a few months of testing and checkout, then a move to the GOES-WEST position off the West Coast this fall.

But once the satellite was launched, engineers discovered a huge anomaly.  The ABI (Advanced Baseline Imager) has a “cooling problem”.  It’s similar to a radiator not working properly and allowing your car engine to overheat.  In May NOAA/NASA announced the Infrared imagery could possibly be unusable for half the day.  Specifically at night when the sun is behind the earth and looking directly into the imager.  Bad news!

Mark GOES 17 Problem Fix1

Keep in mind that GOES-15 continues to operate faithfully in the GOES-WEST position.  But there has been a real possibility that the western half of the USA could be left without a new/advanced satellite for another 2-3 years.

All has been quiet for two months but just today NOAA/NASA announced via a teleconference that things are looking better.  Specifically, through lots of tweaks, software changes & hard work:

  1. 13 of the 16 sensing channels on the ABI should be available 24 hours a day during the solstice periods (summer & winter).  The other 3 channels should work at least 20 hours of the day during these times.
  2. 10 of 16 channels should work correctly 24 hours a day during the equinox periods (early spring and early fall).
  3. This only affects IR and near-IR imagery
  4. All visible & water vapor imagery is unaffected (good)

Mark GOES 17 Problem Fix2

Again, this doesn’t affect many of the sensors, including the new Global Lightning Mapper instrument:

You may wonder why it would be different depending on the season?  It turns out the sensor runs “coolest” during the solstice times (June & December) when the sun is not pointing directly at the sensor during the night.  Near each equinox the sensor more easily overheats with too much incoming solar radiation pointing directly at it from behind the earth.

It was also revealed at the press conference today that GOES-16 has experienced a much smaller version of this same problem.  Luckily it hasn’t impacted performance on that satellite so far.

Due to these issues, most likely GOES-S & GOES-T will likely be delayed as engineers try to fix the cooling issues before launch.  They were scheduled to be launched beginning in 2020.

The best news?  Barring any further problems, GOES-17 will make the move westward this fall and be in place at 137W longitude for this coming storm season.  It will be renamed GOES-WEST at that time.

It’s probably too early, but I’ll say WHEW!…for now.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

19 Responses to Good News! GOES-17 Problem Not As Bad As Feared

  1. W7ENK says:

    What’s with all this upper level moisture off to the West and SW, and the large, random ACCAS fields over the area this morning? That wasn’t in the forecast, nor was it mentioned in yesterday’s AFD.


    • Lee Wilson says:

      I saw that as well.

      And we’re using the Sun to fight the sun.

      Solar powered Airconditioner.. the .ahhhhhh. with out the AAAHHHH (Looking at a bill from 4 years ago)

  2. cgavic says:

    It’s hard for me to understand that people (weather people) are calling this stretch of summer (90°+) unprescented. I’m 58. I look back and remember the in years 1960 – 1990’s when we had temps in the upper 90’s, three or four days of 100 +. The TV says we’re above average (!) ImI sorry, but I simply do not agree. I’ve witnessed those Summer’s, my mom remembers those Summers. We have pictures of those Summers. Many people I’ve talk to about the warm weather. These people are over 50 and in their 60’s. This is common. In fact, over in bend, talking to those people, they consider residents of Western Oregon as “valley people.”

    • W7ENK says:

      Right? Exactly.

      This is Summer!!

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Well, it’s about to be the hottest July of all time (or close to it), so it really isn’t subjective. It’s hot. Hotter than it’s ever been in the history of record keeping.

    • Muxpux (Castle Rock) says:

      Numbers don’t lie though.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      I’m sort of on the fence with this issue. I’m 59, and I do recall some hot summers in my childhood as well. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that we get longer stretches of consistently warm temperatures than we used to. I’m going to see afternoon temperatures well above 80 right through the week into next weekend. Usually we get a break to cloudy skies and cooler temperatures after 3 or 4 days.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      My mom told me when I was born (September 6th 1967) Portland didn’t have any rain for a little over 60+ days and there was a heat wave. She said when I was born Portland had it’s first rain and the heat wave was broken. During the pregnancy she would eat ice cubes to cool down….lol. I don’t think I have seen this type of HOT weather. Like everyone here, we would get HOT for a couple of days then cool off but never have we had 90+ temps for over a week. I for one will enjoy having temps back below 90 😉

      • Muxpux (Castle Rock) says:

        I think a lot of it, is normally, the marine layer this stretch has been pretty weak. Usually during our heatwaves, after a couple days, the marine layer surges in, and we get a day where the clouds don’t burn off as fast, and end up 88 or something, even though the general pattern is the same.

        The thing with the marine layer though, is it’s surge is partly fueled by the contrast in sea temps and land temps. So the more even those are (gasp, warmer sea surface temps?) the more mild it becomes. Everything about the weather is a pretty delicate balance.

        I think a combination of sea temps at their warmest, and the heat wave not being too extreme, combined to make for a weaker marine layer, and thus, a weaker push each night. Even up here around Longview Kelso, the marine layer has been shallow and quick to burn off, though the last 2 days have been below 90 at Kelso, meanwhile a few miles north in castle rock, we’ve had 4 straight 90+.

    • Remember many 90+ degree heat waves from the late 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I’m 66. Agree that most were not of a long duration as they seem to be now. This is the PNW where 90 degree temps happen frequently in the summer months. Some long dry spells were 1967 and 1970. Don’t forget the amazing heat wave of early 1981.

      • boydo3 says:

        Hot nevertheless.
        Except my new location on the south coast where the days have been perfect this week!

      • Roland Derksen says:

        Indeed, I haven’t forgotten the amazing heat wave of early August 1981 or the one a few years further back in August 1977. The ironic thing about those 2 examples, though, is that they were in the middle of 2 rather mediocre summers.(at least in my area). Sometimes we’ve had hot spells during otherwise less than normally sunny summers.

    • chiefWright (Marquam, 375') says:

      Being 58 myself, and have lived all of it on both sides of the cascades of the Pacific NW, I agree we’ve had plenty of heatwaves over decades.
      But the numbers don’t lie. Accurate data has been collected for longer than both of us have been alive. And the data shows that we are absolutely above average this summer by almost every metric. More significantly:
      1) We’ve been above average for more than half of the summers over the last decade. That means the average itself is moving upward.
      2) The average daily low temperature has been increasing faster than average daily high temperature over the last decade. Not just in the Willamette Valley, but every region in west. That’s a better indication that something is shifting.
      What’s your point? Other than disparaging us “valley people”?

    • Lee Wilson says:

      I am 48 years old, and I remember well high remain the past ,like in the early 80s at the Cowlitz County Fair Grounds,
      1 they had to install large fans in the stable area
      2 we had to bathe our horses we were showing to prevent heat stroke.

      Mark, I hate to say it, but this hype may work on the younger millinials and eh those born in the 90s.

      But it don’t work on us.

      Mark, I challange you search the records ..

      As in search the records for the fair grounds temperatures and seek out the farmers who have been around.

      Your a good man, but this whole unprecedented thing needs to end.

      And I am sure some one has VHS or Beta Tapes of news recordings, fairs, and signs with thermometers back then.

      As one once said, “you can fool some of the people some of the time , but you can’t fool all people all the time”.

      • Gene says:

        Yes, I’m sure you know more about the weather than a highly- respected meteorologist who also has lived most of his life in this area. By the way, the record for most 90-degree days is 29 and happened in 2015, not in the 1960s or ‘70s. In three of the last four years, we’ve had more than 20 90-degree days for the summer (this summer will make 4 out of 5). It looks like we’ll have at least 14 90-degree days for this July alone — and that’s more than we get on average in an entire summer! And no, I’m not a millennial — I’m older than you are. So pardon me if I’m more likely to trust the award-winning meteorologist over an amateur weather buff

  3. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Go west GOES-WEST, we need you.

  4. LS says:

    Great! Now if we could get a replacement for RTX and that new coastal doppler!

  5. Paul D says:


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