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Radar Data

Visualization of NEXRAD data.

Visualization of NEXRAD Reflectivity sweeps and derived isosurfaces in Google Earth for the May 22, 2011 Joplin, MO tornado. The image was generated with the NOAA Weather and Climate Toolkit and Google Earth.

Radar, an acronym for radio detection and ranging, is an object detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction of movement, and speed of objects. The antenna transmits pulses of radio waves or microwaves, which bounce off any object in their path. The object returns a tiny part of the wave's energy to a dish or antenna. For more information, please refer to the Introduction To Doppler Radar and Radar FAQ, produced by NOAA's National Weather Service.

NCDC's Radar Archive includes the Next Generation Weather Radar System (NEXRAD) and Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) networks. The NOAA Radar Operations Center provides centralized meteorological, software, maintenance, and engineering support and documentation.

Download digital radar data at no cost from NCDC or order a hardcopy of radar maps for a small fee.

  • Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD)
    Information on the NEXRAD network, history, documentation, base data, and derived products.
  • Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR)
    Information on the TDWR network, history, documentation, and derived products.
  • Radar Display Tools
    Radar data is in a custom binary format. The visualization and decoding of the data requires specialized software.
  • Interactive Radar Map Tool
    Supplemental data in support of the radar archive, including historical five-minute reflectivity mosaics for the continental United States, radar coverage maps, and map-based site selection tools.
  • Severe Weather Data
    Several severe weather datasets exist including the Severe Weather Data Inventory (SWDI), Lightning Products and Services, Storm Data, and International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship. SWDI contains a database of the NEXRAD/TDWR tracked storm attributes, including storm structure, hail, mesocyclone, and tornado vortex signature.