Doppler Radar - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Doppler Radar

During the 1960s, scientists began experimenting with Doppler weather radars--radars that could detect the motion of raindrops within a cloud.  During the 1980s and early 1990s, these radars became operational across the country. 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Doppler radars send out a radio signal which is bounced off of raindrops, hail, snowflakes, and even bugs or birds. Based on the frequency that comes back to the radar from a storm, the radar can tell if the raindrops/hail/etc. are moving towards or away from the radar and how fast (much like a police radar can tell how fast a vehicle is moving towards or away from it).

RESEARCH

Currently, weather radars scan a single layer of the atmosphere:  the level at which the radar dish is pointed.  Research meteorologists are now working on a phased array radar that will scan the entire atmosphere in about a minute (a process that currently takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on weather conditions), similar to how Navy ships scan the atmosphere at sea for airplanes.  You can read more about that research here.

radar from the National Weather Service in Wilmington

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