Slicing Up Local Radar

Josh Stein is an alert “06880” reader, and frequent commenter.

He is not, he emphasizes, a weather expert. But after years trying to track storms — without finding local radar imagery — he writes:

If you look at the radar from station OKX (Upton, New York) on any radar website or app during a storm, you will see that a slice covering our area is missing. Here is an example from the most recent storm:

Westport is smack in the middle of the radar “slice.”

On a Reddit thread, someone asked about the slice. Someone else replied: “Google reveals a water tower and smoke stack to the NW of the radar dome which could be the cause.”

If you look at the radar tower on Google satellite images, you will see it. You can follow the angle to see a water tower structure nearby, blocking it.

There are also smokestacks somewhere in between. But my guess is the water tower is the issue.

Composite radar pieces together radar from multiple stations (e.g. Boston, Philadelphia, Binghamton, Albany and New York City, aka OKX). That is why you likely do not see the slice if you are watching the news or looking at a composite map (but I have seen the slice on TV many times).

However, composite view may not be the best source of data. For example, on Sunday night when there was rotation indicated while the storm was coming towards us (but still in Westchester), I could see the potential cell on the OKX radar but not on the composite view.

If I looked at any of those other radar stations (Boston, Philly, Binghamton, Albany) I could not see anything useful — most likely because Westport is out or range, or right on the outskirts of what they can reach. Meteorologists may have different tools at their disposal.

Perhaps another “06880” reader is more of an expert. Perhaps it’s not a big deal for Westport, because a storm approaching can still be seen while over, say, Stamford, Darien or Norwalk. Maybe it’s a bigger deal for warning Fairfield and Bridgeport?

But missing a piece of the puzzle may also hamper historical reviews when there is a possible tornado.

Again, I’m no expert. Still, I think this is worth exploring.

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