Doppler radar detects windy day

We talk about Doppler radar for detecting precipitation all of the time, but in reality, it has a few other uses. One of the coolest in my opinion allows us to see the wind at different levels of the atmosphere.

What you are looking at to the left is a VAD profile (Velocity Azimuth Display). Each of the wind barbs are placed at 1,000ft increments going upward. The wind blows from the side of the “stick” that has a flag. As for the flags and ticks, they tell us how fast the wind is moving. A short tick mark is 5 kts, long mark is 10, and a triangular flag equals 50kts (roughly 58 mph).

The graph to the left is from Des Moines’ radar. Notice how the strong winds are blowing nearly to the ground as the cold front begins to pass through this area. As a contrast, the right panel shows wind near Chicago’s radar. Notice how speeds are far less, not just up high, but all the way through the atmospheric column as the boundary is still a few hours out.

A Wind Advisory is in effect for all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin through early tomorrow. Look for gusts to 45 mph at times.

-Aaron

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Posted under science, weather geek, Wind

This post was written by qni_it on September 29, 2011

14 Comments so far

  1. Ray September 29, 2011 10:07 AM

    To add to your ever informative blogs, the flag colors are indications of how “accurate” the radar reading believes itself to be. Movements toward the red spectrum are less believable. As always, keep up the good work Aaron!

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