NOAA Next Generation Radar (NEXRAD) Level 3 Products

Metadata Updated: February 8, 2018

This dataset consists of Level 3 weather radar products collected from Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD) stations located in the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. territories and at military base sites. NEXRAD is a network of 160 high-resolution Doppler weather radars operated by the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the U.S. Air Force (USAF). Doppler radars detect atmospheric precipitation and winds, which allow scientists to track and anticipate weather events, such as rain, ice pellets, snow, hail, and tornadoes, as well as some non-weather objects like birds and insects. NEXRAD stations use the Weather Surveillance Radar - 1988, Doppler (WSR-88D) system. This is a 10 cm wavelength (S-Band) radar that operates at a frequency between 2,700 and 3,000 MHz. The radar system operates in two basic modes: a slow-scanning Clear Air Mode (Mode B) for analyzing air movements when there is little or no precipitation activity in the area, and a Precipitation Mode (Mode A) with a faster scan for tracking active weather. The two modes employ nine Volume Coverage Patterns (VCPs) to adequately sample the atmosphere based on weather conditions. A VCP is a series of 360 degree sweeps of the antenna at pre-determined elevation angles and pulse repetition frequencies completed in a specified period of time. The radar scan times 4.5, 5, 6 or 10 minutes depending on the selected VCP. During 2008, the WSR-88D radars were upgraded to produce increased spatial resolution data, called Super Resolution. The earlier Legacy Resolution data provides radar reflectivity at 1.0 degree azimuthal by 1 km range gate resolution to a range of 460 km, and Doppler velocity and spectrum width at 1.0 degree azimuthal by 250 m range gate resolution to a range of 230 km. The upgraded Super Resolution data provides radar reflectivity at 0.5 degree azimuthal by 250 m range gate resolution to a range of 460 km, and Doppler velocity and spectrum width at 0.5 degree azimuthal by 250 m range gate resolution to a range of 300 km. Super resolution makes a compromise of slightly decreased noise reduction for a large gain in resolution. In 2010, the deployment of the Dual Polarization (Dual Pol) capability to NEXRAD sites began with the first operational Dual Pol radar in May 2011. Dual Pol radar capability adds vertical polarization to the previous horizontal radar waves, in order to more accurately discern the return signal. This allows the radar to better distinguish between types of precipitation (e.g., rain, hail and snow), improves rainfall estimates, improves data retrieval in mountainous terrain, and aids in removal of non-weather artifacts. The NEXRAD products are divided in two data processing levels. The lower Level 2 data are base products at original resolution. Level 2 data are recorded at all NWS and most USAF and FAA WSR-88D sites. From the Level 2 quantities, computer processing generates numerous meteorological analysis Level 3 products. The Level 3 data consists of reduced resolution, low-bandwidth, base products as well as many derived, post-processed products. Level 3 products are recorded at most U.S. sites, though non-US sites do not have Level 3 products. There are over 40 Level 3 products available from the NCDC. General products for Level 3 include the base and composite reflectivity, storm relative velocity, vertical integrated liquid, echo tops and VAD wind profile. Precipitation products for Level 3 include estimated ground accumulated rainfall amounts for one and three hour periods, storm totals, and digital arrays. Estimates are based on reflectivity to rainfall rate (Z-R) relationships. Overlay products for Level 3 are alphanumeric data that give detailed information on certain parameters for an identified storm cell. These include storm structure, hail index, mesocyclone identification, tornadic vortex signature, and storm tracking information. Radar messages for Level 3 are sent by the radar site to users in order to know more about the radar status and special product data. NEXRAD data are provided to the NOAA National Climatic Data Center for archiving and dissemination to users. Data coverage varies by station and ranges from May 1992 to 1 day from present. Most stations began observing in the mid-1990s, and most period of records are continuous.

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Metadata Date July 19, 2017
Metadata Created Date September 26, 2015
Metadata Updated Date February 8, 2018
Reference Date(s) 1992 (publication)
Frequency Of Update continual

Metadata Source

Harvested from NOAA CSW Harvest Source

Graphic Preview

NEXRAD reflectivity image

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Date July 19, 2017
Metadata Created Date September 26, 2015
Metadata Updated Date February 8, 2018
Reference Date(s) 1992 (publication)
Responsible Party DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NCEI > National Centers for Environmental Information, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce (Point of Contact)
Contact Email
Access Constraints Cite this dataset when used as a source., NCEI cannot assume liability for any damages caused by any errors or omissions in the data, nor as a result of the failure of the data to function on a particular system. NCEI makes no warranty, expressed or implied, nor does the fact of distribution constitute such a warranty. NCEI can only certify that the data it distributes are an authentic copy of the records that were accepted for inclusion in the NCEI archives.
Bbox East Long -64.0
Bbox North Lat 68.0
Bbox South Lat 11.0
Bbox West Long 124.0
Coupled Resource
Frequency Of Update continual
Graphic Preview Description NEXRAD reflectivity image
Graphic Preview File
Graphic Preview Type JPEG
Guid gov.noaa.ncdc:C00708
Harvest Object Id d2901928-f55b-4ef3-88e9-9de7d3e30554
Harvest Source Id 2aed8e29-fc5b-4cde-aa66-fb1118fd705e
Harvest Source Title NOAA CSW Harvest Source
Metadata Language
Metadata Type geospatial
Progress onGoing
Spatial Data Service Type
Spatial Reference System
Spatial Harvester True
Temporal Extent Begin 1992-05-07

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