Nothing informs the storm spotter of rapidly approaching weather features better than viewing live radar. There are many ways to access weather radar, but most provide a top-down view of rain, snow, and storm cell movement in relation to population centers, highways, county/sate boundaries or land and water features. An exception to this are radar applications that present a cross-sectional vertical view of storm cells in terms of elevation above surrounding terrain. Examples of this are found in applications like GRLevel2 Analyst by Gibson Ridge.
Examples of the two type of views are shown bellow.
GRLevel3 v1 common top-down view
GRLevel2 Analyst v1 3 dimensional view
Some applications show Level3 data and some show Level 2 (or both, depending on how it is used). Applications showing representations of Level 2 data may be more expensive than the others because Level 2 data sets are much larger files and require a great deal more processing. But Level 2 data also provides more details and can provide higher resolution views and more vertical scan "slices."
According to NOAA at this website, Level 3 radar data provides lower resolution, lower bandwidth, and has fewer products. But the upside is it is also faster. For spotters, this faster use of imaging may save lives - especially that of the spotter who may need to get out of harm's way, or for the user needing to be aware of real-time positioning of weather threats.
Some radar applications permit overlay of satellite photos, graphical representations of frontal boundaries, METAR data (graphical symbols representing wind speed & direction, cloud cover, dew points, and more), lightning position and aging, precipitation types, risk if severe weather, and more. Some applications require bolt-on data feed subscrptions to show these overlays and some do not.
In this section, we'll review a few of the available options for viewing live and archived radar data.
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