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How Far Can a Radar See? The further away a thunderstorm, the higher the beam scans through the cloud.Still image:
Size: 3432 x 2574
Acquisition: Graphic, Scanned illustration
Frame rate: still
Clearance: No releases required
Location: Graphic
License: Royalty Free
Usage: Creative and Editorial
Point of view: Other
Geography: N/A
Ambiance: N/A
Time shot: N/A

Season shot: N/A

Still images available: Y
Keywords:   Radars, Weather Explanations, Thunderstorm, Weather Radar
Asset ID: 5393
Title: How Far Can a Radar See?
Concept: The further away a thunderstorm, the higher the beam scans through the cloud.
Detail: The answer to this question is somewhat arbitrary. It must be kept in mind that the radar beam gradually rises above the earth's surface as it moves further from its source. Typically, the center of the beam at 100 miles is about 10,000 or 12,000 feet. By the time the beam is 250 miles from the radar, however, the center is above 40,000 feet. Thus, a thunderstorm with a top of 35,000 feet would be intersected by the beam at 120 miles but would be below the beam at the 250 mile range marker. Since much precipitation (especially during the wintertime), originates at heights below 15,000 feet, the radar beam is simply too high to detect precipitation at distances much greater than 125 to 150 miles. Thus, the somewhat generalized rule that the useful service range of most radars for day to day operations is about 125-150 miles.

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