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Acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging. An electronic instrument used to detect distant objects and measure their range by how they scatter or reflect radio energy. Precipitation and clouds are detected by measuring the strength of the electromagnetic signal reflected back.
An upper air observation used to determine winds and other meteorological data, by tracking the range, elevation, and azimuth of a radar target carried aloft. A type of rawinsonde.
A type of velocity that expresses motion toward or away from a given location. In Doppler radar, it is the component of motion that is parallel to the radar beam.
The process by which energy is propagated through any medium by virtue of the wave motion of that medium. Electromagnetic radiation, which emits heat and light, is one form. Sound waves are another.
The cooling of the earth’s surface and the adjacent air. Although it occurs primarily at night, it happens when the earth’s surface suffers a net loss of heat due to outgoing radiation.
Fog that is created when radiational cooling at the earth’s surface lowers the temperature of the air near the ground to or below its dew point. Formation is best when there is a shallow surface layer of relatively moist air beneath a drier layer, clear skies, and light surface winds. This primarily occurs during the night or early morning.
An instrument attached to a weather balloon used to measure pressure, temperature, humidity, and winds aloft. Observations are made when the radiosonde is aloft and emits radio signals as it ascends. May be referred to as a RAOB, an acronym for RAdiosonde OBservation.
Precipitation in the form of liquid water droplets greater than 0.5 mm. If widely scattered, the drop size may be smaller. It is reported as “R” in an observation and on the METAR. The intensity of rain is based on rate of fall. “Very light” (R–) means that the scattered drops do not completely wet a surface. “Light” (R-) means it is greater than a trace and up to 0.10 inch an hour. “Moderate” (R) means the rate of fall is between 0.11 to 0.30 inch per hour. “Heavy” (R+) means over 0.30 inch per hour.
A luminous arc featuring all colors of the visible light spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). It is created by refraction, total reflection, and the dispersion of light. It is visible when the sun is shining through air containing water spray or raindrops, which occurs during or immediately after a rain shower. The bow is always observed in the opposite side of the sky from the sun.
The amount of precipitation of any type, primarily liquid. It is usually the amount that is measured by a rain gauge.
A forest which grows in a region of heavy annual precipitation. There are two major types, tropical and temperate.
An instrument used to measure the amount of rain that has fallen. Measurement is done in hundredths of inches (0.01″).
Also referred to as a precipitation shadow, it is the region on the lee side of a mountain or similar barrier where the precipitation is less than on the windward side. For example, the relatively dry Washoe Valley of western Nevada is in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada.
The ability of radar to distinguish between targets on the same azimuth but at different ranges.
An upper air observation that evaluates the winds, temperature, relative humidity, and pressure aloft by means of a balloon-attached radiosonde that is tracked by a radar or radio direction-finder. It is a radiosonde observation combined with a winds-aloft observation, called a rawin.
RECONNAISSANCE (RECCO) CODE
An aircraft weather reconnaissance code that has come to refer primarily to in-flight tropical weather observations, but actually signifies any detailed weather observation or investigation from an aircraft in flight.
A measure of the process by which a surface can turn back a portion of incident radiation into the medium through which the radiation approached. It also refers to the degree by which precipitation is able to reflect a radar beam.
The bending of light or radar beam as it passes through a zone of contrasting properties, such as atmospheric density, water vapor, or temperature.
A type of humidity that considers the ratio of the actual vapor pressure of the air to the saturation vapor pressure. It is usually expressed in percentage.
The sum of the rotation of an air parcel about the axis of the pressure system and the rotation of the parcel about its own axis.
In relation to radar, it is the ability to read two distinct targets separately. The clearer the resolution, the nearer the two objects can be to each other and still be distinguishable.
In meteorology, it is the movement of a weather system in a direction opposite to the direction of the basic flow in which it is embedded. Often used in reference to a long wave trough or other macroscale feature. For example, a long wave trough that may move slightly westward when the “normal” movement and flow is eastward.
An elongated area of high atmospheric pressure that is associated with an area of maximum anticyclonic circulation. The opposite of a trough.
The rapid freezing of supercooled water droplets as they touch an exposed object, forming a white opaque granular deposit of ice. It is one of the results of an ice storm, and when formed on aircraft it is called rime icing.
It is formed by a strong surface water movement, or current, of a short duration that flows seaward from the shore. The return flow is piled up onshore by the incoming waves and wind. It is localized, of narrow width, and its position relative to the beach can change as the wave condition changes. Therefore, the higher the waves, the stronger the current.
A type of radiosonde that is shot into the atmosphere by a rocket, allowing it to collect data during its parachute descent from a higher position in the atmosphere than a balloon could reach.
A relatively rare, low-level, horizontal, tube-shaped cloud. Although they are associated with a thunderstorm, they are completely detached from the base of the cumulonimbus cloud.
The movement of ridges and troughs in the upper wind patterns, primarily the jet stream, circling the earth. Named for Carl-Gustaf Rossby, a U.S. Weather Bureau (NWS) employee, who first theorized about the existence of the jet stream in 1939.
The spinning of a body, such as the earth, about its axis.
An altocumulus cloud formation that can be found in the lee of a mountain or similar barrier. The air rotates around a horizontal axis, creating turbulence. Altocumulus lenticularis is an example.
RUNWAY VISUAL RANGE (RVR)
It is the maximum distance at which the runway, or the specified lights or markers delineating it, can be seen from a position above a specified point on its center line. This value is normally determined by visibility sensors located alongside and higher than the center line of the runway. RVR is calculated from visibility, ambient light level, and runway light intensity.