With a very modest investment in computer hardware and the open-source local data manager (LDM) software from University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Unidata Program Center, a researcher can receive a variety of NEXRAD Level III rainfall products and the unprocessed Level II data in real-time from most NEXRAD radars in the USA. Alternatively, one can receive such data from the National Climatic Data Center in Ashville, NC. Still, significant obstacles remain in order to unlock the full potential of the data. One set of obstacles is related to effective management of multi-terabyte datasets. A second set of obstacles, for hydrologists and hydrometeorologists in particular, is that the NEXRAD Level III products are not well suited for applications in hydrology. There is a strong need for the generation of high-quality products directly from the Level II data with well-documented steps that include quality control, removal of false echoes, rainfall estimation algorithms, coordinate conversion, georeferencing and integration with GIS. For hydrologists it is imperative that these procedures are basin-centered as opposed to radar-centered. The authors describe the Hydro-NEXRAD system that addresses the above challenges. With support from the National Science Foundation through its ITR program, the authors have developed a basin-centered framework for addressing all these issues in a comprehensive manner, tailored specifically for use of NEXRAD data in hydrology and hydrometeorology.
Keywords: basin precipitation, Hydro-NEXRAD, NEXRAD data, radar hydrology