Every night at 11 o'clock that not-so-trusted weather man or lady steps onto your screen wearing some type of unappealing weather motif article of clothing trying to convince you about just what is going to happen tomorrow in our little portion of the atmosphere. Now they could be using a crystal ball as far as we know until they bring up that BIG screen full of moving green blobs that mesmerizes us into believing whatever they say.
What exactly is this weather map showing us though? For all we know it is showing the movement of buffalo herds over the plains of America. And also if it does show us "rain" as they say, how exactly does it do so?
Well the buffalo herd idea was completely false, the radar detection actually is showing the precipitation as most people already know, the radar picks up the dense cloud forms that make up storms, and it can also show how dense these clouds are which often shows up as different colors on the green screen.
But again how does this magical radar system work??? Well the answer is actually a simple idea. Radar stands for Radio Detection and Ranging, it was developed starting back in the 1940's and was originally used to detect enemy planes as well as submarines. Back then they used sound waves which were bounced into the air or water and if there was an object present then the waves would bounce back and show the plane or submarine.
Weather radar is a tad more advanced than that now though, they use microwaves sent down from satellites to detect the cloud formations and show where and when the precipitation will go next. What is also very special about modern radar can scan up and down, called elevation scanning, as well as in a circle in all directions, known as azimuthal scanning. Combining these two types of advanced scanning can give a 3D picture of the giant green blobs which threaten outdoor birthday parties and picnics alike.
So the next time you watch the weather-person goes across your screen at 11 pm, know that they are using highly advanced million dollar technology, to give you a forecast that will be right about 60% of the time.
Picture from csindy.com