Doppler radar can detect objects besides precipitation


KNOXVILLE (WATE) – You are probably used to seeing our StormTracker 6 Doppler Radar showing various colors with different intensities of rainfall. The rain is detected as energy is transmitted from the radar. The packets travel through the air until they hit an object, mainly rain, then return to be processed by the radar.   All that happens in seconds as the radar image continuously updates.

There are times when there is no rain, so the radar will scan the atmosphere in “clear air mode,” instead of “precipitation mode.” In this mode, the radar is in its most sensitive operation. This mode has the slowest antenna rotation which permits the radar to sample a given volume of the atmosphere longer.

The slow scan will allow the trained eye to spot non-precipitation items like a sunrise or sunset, or check out bats leaving a cave. It can even show smoke from a fire. Last week, the radar detected several fireworks going off right after the Kansas City Royals won the World Series.

Doppler radar is always scanning the atmosphere but it takes a trained eye to pick out the objects it detects, especially the non-precipitation type.

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