First Alert Weather Academy: How Doppler Radar works

Doppler Radar sends out a horizontal pulse of energy looking for targets.

Weather Academy: Doppler RADAR

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - First used by airplanes in World War II, Doppler Radar has come a long way since then.

The National Weather Service has 155 Doppler Radar sites across the nation, including in Alaska and Hawaii.

Here’s how it works:

Doppler Radar sends out a horizontal pulse of energy looking for targets.

Once it hits something, the pulse returns to the radar to create the image you see on TV.

Doppler Radar sends out a horizontal pulse of energy looking for targets. Once it hits something, the pulse returns to the radar to create the image you see on TV.
Doppler Radar sends out a horizontal pulse of energy looking for targets. Once it hits something, the pulse returns to the radar to create the image you see on TV. (Source: WALB)

The National Weather Service uses a variety of modes to detect different things.

The traditional look you see is known as reflectivity.

This mode shows us where precipitation is falling and how heavy it is.

The traditional look you see is known as reflectivity. This mode shows us where precipitation is falling and how heavy it is.
The traditional look you see is known as reflectivity. This mode shows us where precipitation is falling and how heavy it is. (Source: WALB)

Another mode is velocity.

This shows us the winds within a storm.

Red colors indicate wind moving away from the radar, while green colors indicate wind moving towards it.

If the two colors are close together, this indicates rotation in a storm that could produce a tornado.

Another mode is velocity. This shows us the winds within a storm. Red colors indicate wind moving away from the radar, while green colors indicate wind moving towards it. If the two colors are close together, this indicates rotation in a storm that could produce a tornado.
Another mode is velocity. This shows us the winds within a storm. Red colors indicate wind moving away from the radar, while green colors indicate wind moving towards it. If the two colors are close together, this indicates rotation in a storm that could produce a tornado. (Source: WALB)

The last radar type is known as correlation coefficient on dual-polarization of the radar.

In dual-polarization, the radar sends out a vertical pulse to find anything other than precipitation or wind.

Here, blue and yellow colors co-located with a red-green couplet on the velocity mode show where a tornado may be on the ground.

The last radar type is known as correlation coefficient on dual-polarization of the radar.
The last radar type is known as correlation coefficient on dual-polarization of the radar. (Source: WALB)

These are just some of the things Doppler Radar can do.

But, it’s important to note that Doppler Radar cannot detect everything. That’s why human eyes on every storm are always helpful.

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