Friday, April 27, 2012

When the radar starts to look all colorful

KGAN radar image at around 7 p.m. Friday.  No, it was not really raining yet in Cedar Rapids, but it looks out west like something wicked this way comes.

When you see colors on the radar image, then it’s time to be careful.  One of the changes of modern life that has crept up slowly on us is how much better local radar is.  I can still recall TV radar of the 1960s, looking very much like old images form WWII, with a line sweeping in a circle and white dots appearing on a black background, which could be clouds or birds or invading Russian bombers …

Today, when a storm is coming, we have several choices of sites to watch and see colorful, accurate and easy to interpret radar.  When there’s that dangerous little hook in a thunderstorm where a twister is twitching, we can watch and know when it’s a mile, ½ mile, next door, or will pass us by.

Today’s radar was a bit colorful, for a biker.  I often check the radar on KGAN, channel 2, because I’m used to it.  KCRG has good radar, too, but I tend to check KGAN out of habit.

Today, the sky was alternatively partly sunny, then grey and white and colorful in a way that doesn’t look that good for a biker.

I had no trouble biking in this morning, but when I checked the radar at 3, there was way too much green.

Green may mean rain.  But the radar picks up rain that doesn’t reach the ground, too, so sometimes it’s just “ghost rain,” water changing levels in the sky up high.

That seemed to be the case today.  I had too much to do and couldn’t lead campus until 4—my usual leaving time on Friday, although today I had hoped to leave much earlier to avoid forecast thunderstorms.

Despite the menacing radar, I lucked out.  The sky kept looking worse and worse, but despite darkeining hues of grey, raindrops never fell on my head.

Lucky me.  I’m sure it will rain, but despite the interesting colors of radar, I didn’t get dampened (or electrocuted) today—and I’m all in favor of that trend.  So the song is just an ear worm:

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