Throughout history, many lives have been lost at the hands of severe weather. Meteorologists and scientists alike are always investigating new ways to increase the warning time for these storms, with the hope of reducing the loss of life. In the past few decades, local weather radar advancements have been made, which allow for better accuracy in predicting the paths of these storms, thus allowing meteorologists to issue severe weather reports and warnings earlier than in previous years.
Meteorologists and scientists have been able to successfully track severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes by using an advanced tracking system called NEXRAD (Next-Generation Radar). NEXRAD is a tracking network made up of 158 Doppler weather radars. This high-resolution computerized system takes readings on the amount of precipitation in the air, the movements in the clouds, and the wind speeds during a storm.
These readings are bounced back to a local weather computer, and a colorful image is rendered on the screen, giving meteorologists a clear picture of what kind of weather is on the horizon. This final image is what you see when the meteorologist breaks in with severe weather reports and warnings, usually with a description of how he maps weather radar.
In the case of severe weather, the meteorologist will relay the readings found by the local weather radar to the residents in the area. Most likely, on your television screen you will see a computer animated image of the approaching storm.
If the storm is severe enough, then the National Weather Service (NWS) will issue severe weather reports of severe thunderstorm warnings for your area. In that case, the storm captured on radar will have produced strong readable winds, detectable lightening, and some hail. Paying attention to the weather map is vital when severe weather is around.
On the television screen you will see several colors on the precipitation map, ranging from blue (the lightest) to black (the heaviest). If the colors for your specific area are yellow, take caution. If the colors range between orange and red, take cover immediately, as damaging winds and dangerous lightening have been reported.
When local weather radar in Atlanta, Georgia reported high winds, circular wind patterns, and large hail earlier this year, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning. Meteorologists in the area used the collected data to predict what path the storm would take, indicating which areas needed to be warned.
Thanks to this technology, most residents received the severe weather reports early enough to allow time to seek shelter before the storm hit. Paying attention to your local weather source during severe weather plays a vital role in your safety.