Three days before Hurricane Sandy’s East Coast landfall, NASA released its first aerial, time-lapse video of the storm. Roughly 22,000 miles above Earth, NOAA’s GOES-14 satellite scanned the hurricane’s movement across the southern United States. NASA’s video, produced through rapid-scanning technology, captured the enormity of the storm, its dynamic cloud structure, and the sharpening of the storm’s eye as the continent dimmed under the setting sun. But despite the complicated process of data gathering and transmission that is involved in meteorological satellite sensing and imaging, satellite media often pass as uninterpreted weather reality for popular audiences, offering visual and textual narratives of weather crises that abstract the human from environmental disaster. This essay considers the twentieth-century turn toward uninterpreted and visually centered weather media by analyzing the meteorological satellite movement of the 1960s, contemporary GOES-14 experimental satellite technology, and the narratological and ontological ramifications of the visual satellite data and media that constitute a weather “movie” during storm crises.

You do not currently have access to this content.