Question about weather radar from a non-pilot


#1

Hi guys,

I have a question about Aviation weather radar (http://aviationweather.gov/obs/radar/) and figured you guys would be the ones to ask.

This is an image of the Nexrad radar reflectivity overlayed with cloud tops.

Question is: do those numbers represent the altitude of the tops of clouds? One over Southern California says 710.
Does that mean that the tops are at 71,000 feet?

Thanks for any help.


#2

Wow…
I’m guessing that’s a typo. Probably meant to be 170.

That 540 over TN is impressive tho…


#3

This one is from 10pm. Lots of real impressive altitudes, if I’m understanding the numbers right.

I’m not a pilot, so I don’t know if 60 and 70,000 feet cloud tops are very common.

Thanks for your input.


#4

The Kansas and Oklahoma storms are no doubt in 50K foot range, but the 70K over Illinois, the 60K over Georgia, and the 99K over Alabama are ground clutter/false echo returns. Only extreme convective activity will rise above the troposhere which extends up to about 50,000 ft on average over the contiguous US.

It’s pretty active out there in the central plains tonight… Dorothy better grab up Toto and follow Auntie Em into the cellar… :open_mouth:


#5

Just curious, do they even bother reporting tops above 45K as above that is entering the tropopause?

Typical convective sigmet reports tops above 45K during severe weather events.

WSUS32 KKCI 270355
SIGC
CONVECTIVE SIGMET 13C
VALID UNTIL 0555Z
TX OK KS
FROM 20NW MCI-OSW-20ENE CDS-50SSW GAG-20NW MCI
AREA SEV TS MOV FROM 27015KT. TOPS ABV FL450.
TORNADOES…HAIL TO 2 IN…WIND GUSTS TO 60KT POSS.

I thought I read somewhere, but couldn’t find it, the maximum reported tops were 60K but can’t seem to get my hands on it.

My GRlevel3 radar program reports up to 70K and reports tops in 5K increments beginning at 5K.


#6

I think they put it as “tops above FL450” because the tops are changing so fast there is no way to be exactly accurate in a sigmet or forecast. Plus that just warns us that the CB in question is REALLY big. Why FL450 in a meteorological sense? Don’t know, the trop is generally the top of a CB but that height varies. Could be a holdover from the days when nobody went the high.

We used to joke that the top secret thunderstorm manufacturing facility near the wink VOR made some of the worlds largest thunderstorms. Not literally true, but fun to talk about.


#7

That’s not a storm facility…it’s a dryline manufacturing plant. 8)