May 3, 2011

Spotting Tornados on RadarScope

It's been a week since I wrote my post on weather apps and almost a weeks since tornados ravaged much of Alabama and the Southeast.  One of the apps I wrote about a week ago was RadarScope, an advanced weather app that shows several different types of radar data for radars all over the U.S., Guam, and Puerto Rico.  It is a universal app that works on the iPhone and the iPad.
Velocity Couplet
On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, before the second wave of storms came through--the first arriving that morning--I learned how to use the Storm Relative Velocity 1 setting in RadarScope.  The default setting is Base Reflectivity 1.  This typically shows rain or snow by bouncing radio waves off of the precipitation in the air and is useful for determining where precipitation is and the intensity of it.  The Storm Relative Velocity 1setting, like the Base Velocity setting, shows how quickly particles (rain, hail, snow, etc.) are moving away from the radar and toward the radar.  The Storm Relative Velocity settings though adjust for the movement of the storm in general so that it is easier to spot rotation.  If you look at the picture on the right, you can see, at the circled spot where there is movement both away from the radar (represented by the green) and toward the radar (represented by the red).  This typically indicates rotation, something meteorologists call a velocity couplet.  This particular velocity couplet was tracking near where I live so, of course, I was watching it closely.

I am not a meteorologist, so I didn't actually identify the rotation.  I was simply watching it once the local meteorologist identified it.  Although I'm not a trained storm spotter, being able to see this kind of information on an iPhone is both useful and impressive.

This one picture from RadarScope doesn't come even close to telling the story of that day, when 30 tornados swept across Alabama.  It certainly doesn't do justice to the stories of lost loved ones, lost property, and terrible injuries.  As I did in my last post, I encourage you to take part in the recovery.  There are lots of great organizations, national and local, to give to that are taking part in the recovery.  I chose to give to Mission Birmingham, a local ministry made up of church's and pastors all around the Birmingham area, both inner city and suburban. Mission Birmingham is not only taking part in the immediate recovery of the Birmingham area but in the long term strategy for rebuilding the affected areas.  They will be here long after the national charities, which we are blessed to have involved, have moved on.  If you wish to give to Mission Birmingham, you can send contributions to the Mission Birmingham office or give online through Shades Mountain Independent Church, one of the churches that is part of this ministry.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.