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TUESDAY FEBRUARY 13 - SENSITIVITY OF DOPPLER TO SNOW INTENSITY
When you think about the many ways that
Doppler Radar has revolutionized meteorology,
right at the top of the list is better detection of potential tornado-producing
thunderstorms. But Doppler Radar has been a revolution in other ways too, one
of which gets a lot of use this time of year. That's the ability to tell the
various intensities of snow, something older radars couldn't
do very well, if at all.
Radar works by sending out pulses of radiation. When that radiation strikes
raindrops or snowflakes, some of it is reflected back to a receiver. In
general, the more radiation that comes back, the heavier the rain or snow.
Snow is harder to detect with radar than rain because snowflakes actually
lot of holes in them. So it's easier for the
radar beam to go right
through a snowflake without reflecting back.
But Doppler radar is extremely sensitive, even to relatively small amounts of
reflected radiation. So it can actually differentiate
bands of heavier snow
within larger areas of lighter snow. And this can help meteorologists tell
you with more detail where the heaviest snow is falling in a storm.