Radar Observations of Storms for Education

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Megan Amanatides, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; and S. Berry, N. A. Corbin, J. Endries, M. A. Miller, and S. E. Yuter

Handout (1.5 MB)

Simple 2D schematics of thunderstorms are often used in meteorology classes to describe the structure of storms. While useful to explain basic concepts, these static 2-D depictions of storms are very limited and incomplete descriptions of what actually occurs in the life-cycle of a thunderstorm. Output from three-dimensional numerical models are also used in class to describe storm evolution but do not adequately communicate the complexity of real storms. We aim to complement these resources by building modules on thunderstorm structure based on research radar data. We obtained radar data from the CSU CHILL and NCAR S-Pol radars located in Colorado at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Undergraduate students remotely operated both radars in coordinated scans from our laboratory at North Carolina State University. Data were collected from 18 storms between May 20 and June 20, 2014. A scan strategy consisting of a volume scan and vertical cross-sections was executed every 3 minutes. We frequently updated the locations of the vertical cross-sections to maintain focus on key areas of interest as the storm evolved and moved. We use the dual polarization variables collected by the radar to identify the hydrometeor type within the storms. The final education modules will feature three-dimensional depictions of thunderstorm structure, winds, and precipitation type as the storms evolve.