NEXRAD Data

The NOAA Next Generation Radar (NEXRAD) public dataset on Google Cloud Storage consists of Level II weather radar collected from a network of 160 high-resolution Doppler weather radars operated by the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the U.S. Air Force (USAF). These 10 cm S-Band Doppler radars, located in the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. territories, and at military base sites, detect atmospheric precipitation and winds. The Level II dataset collected before 2008 contains reflectivity, mean radial velocity, and spectrum width radial volume scans at original resolution (1 degree x 1 km resolution). Starting in 2008, the data is available at super-resolution (0.5 degree x 0.25 km resolution) for some reflectivity tilts. Starting in 2011, radars were upgraded to dual polarization. At that time, differential reflectivity, correlation coefficient, and differential phase data were added.

Dataset structure

On Cloud Storage, the data are organized to take advantage of high sustained reads offered within the Google datacenters. Volume scans prior to 2011 are organized into tar files of eight hours each. For example, volume scans from KTLX whose collection started on May 8, 1999 in the eight hours starting at 00:00:00UTC is found in the file:

gs://gcp-public-data-nexrad-l2/1999/05/08/KTLX/NWS_NEXRAD_NXL2LG_KTLX_19990508000000_19990508075959.tar

For data starting in 2011, volume scans are organized into tar files of a single hour. For example, volume scans from KMUX whose collection started on July 23, 2012 in the hour starting at 23:00:00UTC is found in the file:

gs://gcp-public-data-nexrad-l2/2012/07/23/KMUX/NWS_NEXRAD_NXL2DP_KMUX_20120723000000_20120723005959.tar

Note that this filename includes NXL2DP, which indicates dual-polarization.

Data access

The easiest way to browse and download NEXRAD files is with the Google Cloud Storage Console. You can also access the files with the gsutil command line tool, one of the Google Cloud Client Libraries, or with the JSON or XML API.

For guides on using these tools to list objects and filter the results, see Object listing. For guides on downloading files, see File downloads. Copying NEXRAD data from Cloud Storage to any Virtual Machine within Google Cloud Platform is free.

For examples of how to write programs to visualize volume scans or process the radar data at scale, see the related Google Big Data blog post.

About the dataset

Dataset Source: NOAA

Category: Radar imagery, Meteorological.

Use: There are no restrictions on the use of NEXRAD data, and it can be used or redistributed as desired. More information on citation and terms of use is available on NOAA’s NEXRAD data page.

Update Frequency: New NEXRAD images scenes are added as they become available. Data is typically available within 4 hours after archiving by NOAA. There may occasionally be additional delays due to planned or unplanned maintenance.

Format: Binary format specific to NEXRAD.

GCS Location: gs://gcp-public-data-nexrad-l2 (located in the US multi-region).

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