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Select Lesson:

7. Using RADAR with Observations and Warnings

Objectives:

The SchoolNet8.com website features multiple locations where RADAR information can be combined with current National Weather Service warnings and SchoolNet8 observations. The purpose of this lesson is get you familar with the Live Super Doppler8 App and to provide pointers on reading the generated maps.

SchoolNet8.com Online Resources:

SchoolNet8.com contains two main applications for maps that show Live Super Doppler8 RADAR imagery with other data sources like current observations and National Weather Service warnings. These are the:

and the:

Questions:

  1. Using the Live Super Doppler8 App, click the "Live/Archive Options" button, then set the time mode to "Archive". Choose the date May 22, 2004 and time 7PM using the pull down menus. Click "Make Changes". Hopefully you will see a map valid for that time. Describe what you see.
  2. Click on the zoom-in button , then click on Boone county, just to the northwest of Des Moines. What happens? Which counties are under Tornado Warnings issued by the National Weather Service? (hint: you may wish to zoom in twice to get a better look at the storms.)
  3. Click on the again, then click on southeastern Boone county, which is the "red" county furthest to the east. You'll see a closer view of the supercell, or rotating, thunderstorm over southeastern Boone county. Hail, which is a very good reflector of radar signals, is often shown in purple on Live Super Doppler Radar. Where do you see hail in this image? Supercell thunderstorms are often represented by a "hook" structure on radar. Where do you see a hook in this image?
  4. Change your plot variable to "Today Rainfall". Then using the "control" key, select Ames and Boone. Have these sites received a lot of rain so far on this day? If you were forecasting, do you think those locations would pick up more rainfall if the storms to the west came directly east?
  5. Assuming the two supercell thunderstorms you see on the screen are moving east, which counties MIGHT the National Weather Service issue tornado warnings for next?

Possible Answers:

  1. KCCI's Super Doppler is indicating a number of very impressive storms just to the north and west of the Des Moines Metro. The boxes you see on the map are the counties that had active weather warnings at the time. The red boxes are tornado warnings and yellow boxes are severe thunderstorm warnings.
  2. When you click on the zoom button and then the map, your map is recentered and zoomed by a factor of 2 to the location you clicked. Boone and Carroll County were under Tornado Warnings at this time.

  3. You don't need to zoom in far to see that this storm in SE Boone County is a nasty one. The hook echo is outlined in white and the possible location of the tornado is given by a black dot.
  4. You should get a plot showing Ames with 1.13 inches of rainfall and Boone with 1 inch. This was the rainfall for May 22nd up until 7 PM. A solid forecast would be for those locations to pick up more rainfall as the storms to the west are destined to go over the same locations.
  5. If the storms continue to show signs of severe weather, the NWS would issue warnings for almost any county east of the thunderstorms once the storm threatened the area.

Other Educational Resources:

  1. National Weather Service