Some Local Doppler Radars are Slower Than Others

Categories: Weather

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Even Brick Tamland thinks one of these radars is way too slow.
With all the rain we've had over the last few days, no doubt many of you have been keeping an eye on radar offered on dozens of Web sites and smartphone apps. But, have you ever looked at the time stamp on those radar images? You should, because not all radars are equal.

In looking through the radar of all the local television stations, the Houston Chronicle, the National Weather Service, Weather.com (probably the most popular) and Weather Underground, I found that many of them showed images that were well behind current time. In the event of a dangerous thunderstorm, this kind of lag is downright worrisome.

Here they are with screen capture images from best to worst.

Note: Actual time was taken from a computer clock synced with an online server and should be considered highly accurate, though I wouldn't consider this test exactly scientific either.


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Chron.com
Actual Time: 3:49 p.m.
Date Stamp: 3:49 p.m.
Variance: 0 minutes

Chron.com ranks tops on our list with literally no difference between our time and the time date stamped on the radar.


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Weather Underground
Actual Time: 3:51 p.m.
Date Stamp: 3:48 p.m.
Variance: - 3 minutes

Ever reliable Weather Underground was next with a moderate three-minute lag time.


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KPRC
Actual Time: 3:46 p.m.
Date Stamp: 3:42 p.m.
Variance: - 4 minutes

Channel 2 was up next with a four-minute delay. Still not bad.


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KRIV
Actual Time: 3:48 p.m.
Date Stamp: 3:42 p.m.
Variance: - 6 minutes

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National Weather Service
Actual Time: 3:49 p.m.
Date Stamp: 3:43 p.m.
Variance: - 6 minutes

Both Fox 26 and, surprisingly, the National Weather Service clocked in six minutes slow, which, in a severe thunderstorm, is starting to get pretty dicey.


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3 comments
Jack S
Jack S

You also need to take into account that  all these radars take several minutes to make a complete sweep of the atmosphere and update. No radar is in "real Time".

Michaelwfsn
Michaelwfsn

Looks like you guys need to go to school in radar meteorology before you start posting stories like this. Did you even bother to find out why the lag is there? You do know that just because the radar image the chron was using had a time stamp that matched your time, does not mean the actual radar data is current? Also depending on internet connection on the data providers end and the users end can also affect the time the image is updated. please tell you you knew that before you started spouting off this so called article. Next time try and do some research so you can get your facts straight.

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