A preliminary assessment of thunderstorm outflow wind measurement with airport surveillance radars
May 15, 1987
Modern airport surveillance radars (ASR), situated on or near most major air terminals, feature coherent pulse-Doppler processing, a vertical-fan beam and rapid azimuthal antenna scanning for detection and tracking of aircraft. These radars might serve an additional useful role by making radial wind measurements in the immediate vicinity of an airport so as to provide data on thunderstorm outflow winds. This report presents a preliminary analysis of the capabilities and limitations of ASRs in measuring outflow winds. Principal results are: (10) radar sensitivity is adequate to measure winds associated with weakly reflecting (5-20 dBZ) thunderstorm outflows at ranges less than 20 km provided that appropriate operating parameters are chosen; (2) overhanging precipitation, often moving at a markedly different radial velocity than the outflow, will be a significant source of interference owing to the verrtical-fan antenna pattern. If radar reflectivity is approximately constant with altitude, this interference will limit the maximum range for reliable outflow velocity measurements to about 20 km for an outflow that extends 1000 m above the surface and to 7 km for an outflow that extends only 300 m above the surface; (3) At two example major air terminals (Memphis International and Denver Stapleton) ground clutter suppression of approximately 40 dB, combined with the use of unter-clutter visibility techniques, would result in ad adequate signal-to-interference ratio for thunderstorm outflow velocity measurement over the significant approach/departure corridors. This result applies when the radar reflectivity factor in the outflow is 20 dBZ or greater and the associated winds extend at least 300 m above the surface.