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NSSL's mobile radar being used to help understand dust storms

NSSL's dual-polarized mobile Doppler radar team is planning to coordinate operations with the Phoenix NWS (NWS) Forecast Office and the NWS Radar Operations Center during the next dust storm event. Their mission will be to collect data on the vertical extent of the dust to compare with the Phoenix NWS radar data, recently upgraded with dual-polarization technology. NWS forecasters observed a mysterious shadow in the radar data during the latest dust storm on July 19, 2011. They also re-examined dual-polarized radar data from the large dust storm on July 5, 2011. During that event, the shadows were more pronounced, and along and slightly behind the leading edge of the dust storm.

NWS forecasters hope combining both data sets will reveal some clues about their existence.

The mobile radar team is studying dust storms and microbursts in the Phoenix area through the end of August.