We are halfway through hurricane season, and just in time, the University of Hawaii has started up a new satellite communication facility.
The satellite antenna and dish sit on the roof of building 7 on the campus of Honolulu Community College.
At least 12 times a day it’s tracking one of six satellites orbiting the earth.
That means better and more accurate information on the sky and ocean around us.
This satellite information is critical for our islands which are isolated by water.
"Like balloons that are launched from land and surface stations, they’re plentiful on the mainland and there’s a lot more data there, a lot more radars. Out on the open ocean, we have very little data, so satellites are what we have to rely upon," said Steven Businger, meteorology professor at the UH Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.
Those weather loops seen on the news are made available by geostationary satellites 25,000 miles away and the Hawaii Forecast Office can only update that data every six hours.
This new system allows real-time downloading of ocean and cloud temperature and imagery from polar orbiting satellites. It can also detect volcanic emissions.
Plus the high resolution images are giving forecasters a better look at the storms, even at night.
"With just a little bit of moonlight, it allows the forecasters to see details of the thunderstorms and the showers in the trade winds," said Businger.