The Evolving History of U.S. Doppler Radar Development (credit: This Day in Weather History)
DISCUSSION: Over the past 6 to 7 decades, there has undoubtedly been tremendous progress made in the field of radar meteorology. From the earlier systems (i.e., the Army radar landing systems) which were very basic in terms of their ability to observe the lowest part of the troposphere during the earlier part of the 20th Century. Attached below are exact excerpts from the "This Day in Weather History" team and the Radarscope team which help to further explain the background behind the history of weather radar evolution across the United States.
"Today, there are over 150, NEXRAD or Next Generation Radars in service across the county. However a mere 71 years ago, there were none. On February 13th, 1947, the Civil Aeronautics Administration asked Congress for funds to install surplus Army radar landing systems at 20 terminal airports. Radar landing systems permit planes to land "blind" in bad weather. The first Weather Surveillance Radar was installed in Washington D.C. in March 1947. By early July 1947, newspapers across the country ran a story about how weather forecasters may be able to track down tornadoes by radar. Today, radars can detect a tornadic debris signature (TDS), often referred to as a debris ball. A TDS is an area of high reflectivity on weather radar caused by debris lofting into the air, usually associated with a tornado."
The next two excerpts are quoted from the article entitled "A Brief History of Weather Radar courtesy of the Radarscope team which is owned by Weather Decision Technologies.
"During the 1960s, the electronics industry underwent a great deal of change. Electronic components could be made smaller due to the transistor. A group of engineers formed Enterprise Electronics Corporation to design and manufacture more advanced radars. Their first radar was installed in 1969 at a television station in Tampa, Florida. A year later, a second radar was installed in Jackson, Mississippi. Funding obtained in 1976 allowed the NWS to replace the older radars with newer radars. These radars became known as the WSR-74C."
Following the deployment of the WSR-74C, two laboratories that were instrumental in radar development, the NOAA National Severe Storms Lab and the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory, combined forces to work on the Joint Doppler Operational Project. The path to the development of what would eventually be called NEXRAD began in 1978. Some 12 years later, the first WSR-88D was installed near Norman, Oklahoma. A total of 158 of these radars are now installed across the country. The WSR-88D was the first radar with Doppler capabilities, which not only allows the radar to detect an echo, but also determine the motion of that echo."
To learn more about the particulars of the article from the Radarscope team, feel free to click here!
To learn more about other past historic flashbacks on major weather or weather-related events from around the world, be sure to click here!
© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz