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Tornado In Bent County on July 30, 1998

Doppler Radar
      The sky is dark and you do not know what is going on, the wind starts to pick up and the American flag in your yard starts flapping wildly. This makes it seem like there could be a bad storm or a possible tornado on its way. How do we know what is about to happen? Doppler radar is one way we find out.

      Although it is not possible to predict tornadoes as easily as it is to predict tomorrows high and low, lives have been saved by Doppler radar, which can help in warning people of severe storms. Most people have heard of Doppler radar, but not everyone knows what Doppler radar really is. Doppler radar in scientific terms is radar that uses the Doppler effect to measure velocity.

      Doppler radar was first discovered by Christian Doppler using sound waves. Today Doppler radar is used to detect storms and their intensity in the American tornado alley and all over the world. Doppler radar works by sending out radio waves from an antenna. These radio waves are reflected back to the antenna by objects in the air. Through this process Doppler radar can detect precipitation in the air. It even detects frequency differences based on whether an object is moving away from the antenna or towards it. The frequency will be lower if the object is moving away from the antenna and higher if the object is moving toward the antenna. After the antenna detects an object it sends the information back to a computer that brings up the different frequencies as different colors. The colors used represent speed and direction to the user. Using this method meteorologists can tell a lot of things about the storms it detects.

 Two of the most important things that meteorologists can learn about storms through Doppler radar are the intensity and location of storms. Using this important information they are then equipped to send out warnings for specific areas. Doppler radar is what aids meteorologists in sending out tornado warnings. If the Storm Prediction Center issues a tornado watch it means that conditions are right for the development of severe storms with the ability to produce tornadoes. When the National Weather Service has issued a Doppler indicated tornado warning it means that Doppler radar has indicated a tornado over that area. A Doppler radar indicated tornado has not necessarily touched down on the ground, but is instead rotation that has been detected in the clouds. For this reason when the national weather service sends out a tornado warning it is very important to take the proper precautions because a tornado is very likely to set down at any moment if it hasn't already.

 Doppler radar can also tell meteorologists the direction that storms are heading. This helps them know which areas to warn of the impending storm. For instance if there is a tornado warning over Northern Weld County in Colorado and meteorologists see that the storm is heading quickly southeast they know to warn the people in Morgan County of the approaching storm and that it could produce a tornado. This also helps tornado chasers know where to position themselves when plotting an intersect course with the storm. Another thing Doppler radar tells meteorologists is the direction and speed of winds inside of storm. This allows them to visibly see rotation in a storm, how intense the rotation is and send out warnings accordingly.

Although Doppler radar cannot predict storms before they have formed, nor can Doppler radar pinpoint perfectly where a Doppler tornado is, it has still helped save many lives. Doppler radar helps the everyday person in many convenient ways. When you watch a weather station the meteorologists are using Doppler radar, many weather web-sites feature maps of Doppler radar with charts to help you know what kind of storms are headed your way. Doppler radar enhances weather radio by giving the public quick warning. Because of this very useful tool meteorologists are able to help people know when they should be keeping their eye on the sky.
Fastest winds recorded by Doppler radar of a tornado?eather
Doppler Indicated Tornado home of Tornado Tim