WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Does WRAL have its own Doppler radar, or do you use NOAA's?

Posted May 20, 2007

MIKE MOSS SAYS:       John,   the answer is Yes! Because they complement each other in many ways, we both own a Doppler radar that is sited near our main transmitter towers just off Highway 70 near the Wake-Johnston County border (and also quite near the Raleigh NEXRAD Doppler radar site).

The "HD Doppler 5000" images and loops you see on our web site are produced by the radar that we own, and that is the case for our on-air references to Doppler 5000 as well. We actually use three different systems to display radar information on TV. One system shows a single radar site at a time, and we typically use this one to show Doppler 5000, and maintain a live sweep that is available to viewers on our 24-hour WeatherCenter Channel on cable and HD sideband. On occasion, we do use that same software on the air to show data from selected NEXRAD sites as well. In addition to the single site imagery, we can use this system to show nationwide or regional radar composites based on all U.S. NEXRAD sites.

Another system we frequently use is called HD VIPIR, and it adds a capability to rotate and tilt imagery in a pseudo-3 dimensional manner, as well as the ability to composite up to seven radar sites with near-real time sweeps visible on the air. For this display, we combine the Doppler 5000 with NOAA/NWS radar sites from Raleigh, Wilmington, Morehead City, Wakefield VA, Blacksburg VA and Greenville-Spartanburg SC. This system also has the ability to composite regional or national imagery from all U.S. NEXRADs.

Finally, we also use national composite and (rarely) single site imagery as part of our standard weather graphics display, most often paired with satellite imagery for national and regional views.

Having our own radar allows us full control over the unit, provides some complementary coverage technical sense due to the fact that we use a significantly different wavelength than NEXRAD (5 centimeters versus their 10, each having advantages and disadvantages regarding sensitivity, resolution and penetrating power). We also get a fully live update from the Doppler 5000, eliminating 4-6 minute delays associated with full volume scans from NEXRAD systems, and perhaps as valuable as anything else, when the Raleigh NEXRAD is out of service for any reason, we have a fully functioning back-up and vice versa.

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