Weather Wednesday: How exactly does the Doppler Radar work?

Weather Wednesday

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — If you didn’t know, the Doppler Radar is a very important tool that meteorologists use to not only forecast the weather, but brings information about current conditions as well.

The radar will consistently emit a pulse of energy out into the atmosphere.

If there is no precipitation, or just cloud cover out there the beam will go on forever and eventually disappears.

If there is precipitation, the pulse of energy will come in contact with it.

The raindrop will then absorb some of that energy before scattering it back out into the atmosphere in various directions.

One key direction is back to the radar sensor, essentially allowing the radar and the system to communicate with one another.

The radar analyzes the time between the emission of the energy pulse and its return.

Based on the time, meteorologists can calculate the distance between the sensor and the precipitation.

Now another key factor of Doppler radar is a feature called “Dual Polarization”, so the radar not only emits energy in a horizontal plane but also in the vertical plane as well.

The vertical plane allows meteorologists to know the size of the object that the energy beam is coming in contact with, as well as telling the type of precipitation in the atmosphere and the type we can expect in our area.

Whether it’s rain, snow, sleet or some form of mixed precipitation- the Doppler radar has us covered.

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