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Hot Shots: Satellite transport, snow devil, water spout and more

Highlighting images in transportation, trucking and weather

(Photo: NOAA, SavannahGA.org)

Every Friday, FreightWaves takes a look at the past week or so in social media, highlighting images in trucking, transportation and weather. This week features an 18-wheeler hauling a weather satellite, a snow devil in Colorado, a rare waterspout in Canada and more.

Space trucking?

The latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellite was recently shipped across the country on an 18-wheeler and a military plane. Lockheed Martin’s spacecraft team in Littleton, Colorado, where the GOES-T satellite was built, carefully packed the satellite in a special shipping container. It was then driven on an 18-wheeler to Buckley Space Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, about 17 miles away, where it hitched a ride on a C-5 Super Galaxy aircraft, arriving Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida.

The satellite, weighing more than 6,000 pounds, will undergo final preparations in a spacecraft processing facility in nearby Titusville, and is scheduled for an early 2022 launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The new satellite will provide very high-resolution imagery across the U.S. West Coast, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and Central America, as well as the Pacific Ocean extending to Guam.

What the devil!

A “snownado” of sorts was spotted in the Colorado Rockies this week at a ski resort in Breckenridge. However, it wasn’t really a tornado, which descends from a rotating thunderstorm. It’s more like a dust devil, with gusty winds picking up dry snow instead of dirt and sand.

The snow devil is actually warm air at the ground rising quickly and rotating into much cooler air just above it, typically on a clear day. Since surface heating causes the snow to become wet and heavier, snow devils are far less common than dust devils.

Spouting off

A rare waterspout skirted the Vancouver International Airport in Canada last weekend, forcing planes into holding patterns until the weather cleared. The waterspout, which formed over the mouth of Howe Sound, then reached land as a tornado. It caused considerable damage at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus, according to Environment Canada. Storm surveyors estimated peak wind speeds were between 56 and 68 mph, a rating of EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.


Compared to the U.S., waterspouts and tornadoes are rare in Canada. The Northern Tornadoes Project reported 89 confirmed tornadoes and waterspouts across the country this year. Meanwhile, the U.S. had 146 preliminary reports of tornadoes in just the month of October.

According to the Storm Prediction Center, the preliminary U.S. tornado count for 2021 stood at 1,149 as of Nov. 1.

High tide

Heavy rain drenched parts of the Southeast last weekend, resulting in coastal flooding. Savannah, Georgia, was one of the hardest-hit areas, slammed with a daily record rain total Saturday of 2.46 inches. High water breached Old Fort Jackson by Sunday morning’s high tide.

The rain wasn’t as abundant in Charleston, South Carolina, but gusty winds and the high tide caused coastal flooding there as well.

Beauty shot

This week’s beauty shot comes from across the border in Canada where a rainbow was caught on camera in Vancouver last weekend. In the foreground was colorful fall foliage, along with a cargo vessel on the water in the midground.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.
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