Can radar indicate storm vs rain cloud?

hello, many websites offer radar images of approaching/ forming clouds, allowing a paddler to ‘see’ behind hills/ mountains for miles, & avoid getting caught by surprise. the image usually has a color scale indicating rainfall per hour, but as a kayaker what i am really interested in is wind speed or at least the type of cloud ( thors anvil)

do radar maps give such clues? thx

Checkout Windy and WindGuru phone apps are what I use for sailing.

On MyRadar app I have wind turned on in Layers. The wind speed with direction is shown as green arrows.

Same here, I most often use Windy. You can choose to see satellite for cloud cover, or radar for rainfall. Wind usually comes from ground stations and interpolated from those readings as well as barometric pressure gradients. Radar itself does not see clouds or wind.

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Another Windy user, all kinds of options including a thunderstorm map. AFAIK nothing shows the most dangerous stuff like microbursts from a t-storm though.

Most weather apps now have a lightning tracker, although it usually has a limited distance range from your location.

I use WindAlert, which shows live wind data, but there is usually a lag, some stations it can be 45 min to an hour. That can make a difference when trying to predict the arrival of a storm or front. I usually look at multiple weather stations over a large scale rather than relying on just the closest station.

Here in Florida we have frequent (ie daily) storms from June - Oct and they can be very unpredictable in their motion. We do have the advantage of a lack of topography that can hide storms though, not uncommon at night to see lightning from a storm that the map shows to be 60 miles away.

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All weather is local as they say. You should look at where the weather station is located and look at more than one location. Apps like Windy, Windfinder will show you where the stations physically are. VFH radios have a weather channel that can alert you to impending bad weather. But you should know if the weather is risky before you get on the water.

I often use LuckGrib for the ability to zoom in and look at hyper local predictions but also because it offers a look at the High and Low systems that are predicted. That’s great information about what’s coming your way. Tracking the fronts lets you see the “unsettled quarter” where most of the worrisome weather happens.

Wind speed is generally measured at 32 feet above sea level. It may not accurately reflect what is happening at cockpit level due to land formations or distance from shore.

If you are interested in reading the sky to better understand what’s happening around you take a look at Peterson Field Guide to Weather ISBN 978-0-547-13331-7 or a great pocket reference The Ron Cordes Pocket Guide to Weather Forecasting ISBN 978-1-931676-17-S.

Another great resource for understanding weather and tapping into prediction resources is Mark Thornton’s website: Don’t be fooled by the name, Mark covers the whole continent not just Lake Erie.

And as @RC51Mike said, the barometric pressure will tell you if a front is coming which usually means wind. I carry a Kestral 5000 with the barometric alarm set. Plus the combination of wind direction and pressure fall/rise tells you if weather is closing in. It’s also fun to be able to measure the actual windspeed from the cockpit!

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Yes, quite well actually. When we are out doing bird research we have often checked the radar, seen storms approaching while it is sunny where we are, held off going out and in 20 minutes we have a storm pass over us that we would not have wanted to be out in.

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You can get info on lighting strikes a thousand miles away.