|WHICH PRECIPITATION TYPES|
ARE BEST DETECTED BY RADAR?
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
In general, the larger the precipitation particle the better it will detected by radar. However, not all
particles of the same size will have the same reflectivity. Ice is more efficient at absorbing the energy
emitted from radar as compared to liquid water. Combining size and precipitation type, we get the following
relationships. With each statement below assume the precipitation rate is equal:
1. Dry snow will have a lower VIP than
2. Wet snow will not only have a higher VIP than dry snow, it will also have a higher VIP than rain. Wet snow
has a reflectivity similar to very large raindrops. A wet snow flake is larger in volume than a liquid rain
drop even when they have the same mass. This high reflectivity of wet snow causes the
"bright band" on radar.
hail has a higher VIP than dry hail. Wet hail has the largest reflectivity of any precipitation particle.
Radar sees wet hail as a gigantic raindrop.