How Does A Weather Radar Work to Forecast Weather?


In the past, people used their sensory observations to collect data regarding the weather. Like, they used to know the direction of the wind through the movement of the leaves or estimated the time of rain through the number and the color of clouds in the sky.

But people’s mind is curious that led them to dig into every detail of a topic. Due to this nature of human beings, today we are blessed with advanced technology, and we have many instruments that can measure and tell us the accurate data of many things including weather.

A weather radar is one of the essential instruments of a weather station. Maybe many of you are aware of what a weather radar is but don’t know how does it work to forecast weather.

Nothing to be ashamed of, I was in that position myself, which is why I did some digging. Here is the information that I was able to gather.

What Is A Weather Radar?

Before jumping into how a weather radar works and forecast weather, let’s have an idea of what a weather radar is.

The word RADAR stands for “Radio detection and ranging.” It was invented during World War II and has been used in various fields. Among those various fields that it has been used, the single most important sector was to detect weather.

A weather radar is also called “weather surveillance radar.” It is an instrument that is used for locating the precipitation, the intensity of it as well as the motion of the precipitation in the atmosphere by transmitting a type of electromagnetic energy.

This instrument also helps us to know about any upcoming storm as well as the direction and intensity of the rain, storm, snow, hail, etc.

How Does the Weather Radar Work?

Now, let’s come to the point. The point is, how does the weather radar work?

A radar usually consists of four basic units: a transmitter, a receiver, an antenna, and a display system. The transmitter generates the pulse of microwaves.

The antenna emits the radio waves. The waves are emitted outward in a circular pattern. But the microwaves are scattered by precipitation that sends some energy back that are received by the antenna again; this energy is then detected by the radar’s receiver.

Radar echo, the intensity of the received signal, tells the magnitude of the precipitation. The time required for the waves to come out of the radar and then return is measured, this time tells the distance of the upcoming storm. These data are viewed in the display system.

A Doppler or weather radar uniquely can measure the speed of the wind in precipitating regions. If the precipitation particles are moving to the radar, then the receiver of the detector receives waves of higher frequency and a lower frequency if the particles move away.

This helps the radar to identify the severity of the weather. Like, if it is seen that the particles are moving fast towards a point and then moving away within a very small distance, then the storm may be a tornado.

Why Is the Weather Radar Used?

A weather radar is used in the meteorological institutes, used by the aviation authorities and have other applications.

This instrument helps for making efficient decisions, improve awareness, gives us warnings against a natural disaster like heavy snowfall and forecast. It helps to forecast the upcoming weather.


Through sensory observations, we could not get every data of the weather that the people witnessed during the natural disasters that caused enormous economic and personal damage.

Today, we can be aware of any storm like hurricane or tornado through collecting data by a weather radar that at least gives us some time to move to a safer place and save ourselves along with our belongings.

The aircraft uses the weather radar for tracking the intensity and motion of the precipitation that helps them to make efficient decisions. That’s all there is to it.

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