WMBD/WYZZ - Lincoln - You may have heard the National Weather Service’s Doppler radar in Lincoln referred to as “The Golf Ball” before, but there are no games here when it comes to how it can protect you from a severe storm. The Doppler works by sending out pulses of energy into the atmosphere. When those pulses hit something, like a thunderstorm, it returns to the radar and gives meteorologists an idea of how strong the storm is. “The beauty of the radar is that it can also detect whether its moving away from or towards the radar, and thats the Doppler portion of the radar,” says Chris Miller, who is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the NWS offices in Lincoln. It’s similar to when a train passes in front of you. It sounds louder as it approaches and quieter as it moves away. Meteorologists can use this motion data from the radar to figure out some important aspects of the storm. “When we see motions going away from the radar and towards the radar in a very small area, that tells us theres a circulation in the storm and often times, thats associated with a tornado,” Miller says. Combine all this data with trained spotters in the field, and you have a good picture of how a storm is behaving. And as the technology for the Doppler radar improves, response times are better, which can save even more lives during severe storms. “With our Doppler radar and the software thats with that, were able to get warnings out within seconds,” Miller says. “A few years ago, we had to type up every word of the warning manually, and that could take a few minutes.” Today, issuing a warning is as simple as point, click, and warning issued, which is exactly how the weather service wants it. “Really the whole mission is to get the warning out so people can protect themselves in a real timely manner,” Miller says. All this just proves that even though severe weather can happen at a moment’s notice, the National Weather Service can help save lives just as quickly.
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