What Tools Meteorologists Use to Predict the Weather

What Tools Meteorologists Use to Predict the Weather

Weather Station on Mt. Feldberg, Germany

Meteorologists have continually watched the conditions that affect the weather. Over time though, the tools have become innovative. As technology grew, our scientists started to use more effective equipment to gather additional data. These technological advances allow meteorologists to make enhanced predictions quicker than ever before.

Doppler radar

Doppler Radar is the meteorologist’s window into detecting severe storms. With more than 150 radar towers across the nation, the National Weather Service has full coverage of the continental U.S. and some coverage of Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Doppler radar senses all types of precipitation, thunderstorm clouds, and airborne tornadoes.

Satellite data

Weather satellites observe Earth from space, accumulating observational data our scientists examine. NWS runs three types of weather satellites. Polar orbiting satellites circle the Earth close to the surface, producing close to seven detailed images per day. Geostationary satellites remain over the same location on Earth high above the surface creating images of the entire Earth every 30 seconds. Deep space satellites look at the sun to monitor effective solar storms and space weather.


Radiosondes are our main source of upper-air data. At least two times a day, radiosondes are connected to weather balloons and are released in over 90 locations across the US. In its two-hour trip, the radiosonde drifts to the upper stratosphere where it gathers and sends back info every second about temperature, air pressure, wind direction, relative humidity, and wind speed. In severe weather, we typically launch weather balloons more often to collect additional info about the storm environment.

Automated surface-observing systems

ASOS frequently monitor weather conditions on the surface of the earth. Over 900 stations across the nation report info regarding surface visibility, sky conditions, temperature, precipitation, and wind up to 12 times an hour.

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