Importing Custom Color Palettes in RadarScope 4.2

RadarScope 4.2 gives Pro Tier Two subscribers the ability to change the standard color palettes for radar products. Custom color palettes give you the ability to choose color palettes that better meet your needs or viewing preferences. In this post, we’ll learn how to import custom color palettes, and we’ll walk through the process of importing an existing color palette file.

Color Palette Files

RadarScope color palettes specify which colors to apply to data values in a radar product. They’re defined in plain text files with a filename extension of “.pal” The contents of the file specify the product types for which the color palette can be used (e.g. reflectivity, velocity, etc.), the units of data values in the file (e.g. dBZ, miles per hour, etc.), and the colors to associate with those data values. RadarScope color palettes are based on the Color Table File Specification originally created by Gibson Ridge Software, with some modifications to support certain RadarScope features.

Importing a Reflectivity Color Palette on iOS

Follow these steps to import an existing color palette file on iOS:

  1. To start, you’ll need to put the file somewhere where RadarScope can find it. Your iCloud Drive is a good place.
  2. Tap the Settings icon in the lower right corner.
  3. Select the Settings tab, then scroll down to the Appearance section and tap “Color Palettes”.
  4. Tap “Reflectivity”.
  5. Tap “Import Color Palette…”
  6. Using the standard iOS Document Picker, navigate to and select the color palette file you wish to import.
  7. Edit the name of the color palette if you wish to do so, then tap “Import”.
  8. Tap the name of the newly imported color palette to use it when displaying reflectivity products.
  9. Tap “Done”.

Importing a Reflectivity Color Palette on macOS

Follow these steps to import an existing color palette file on macOS:

  1. To start, you’ll need to put the file somewhere that RadarScope can find it. Your local Home directory, Downloads folder, or iCloud Drive are good options.
  2. In the menu bar, select Colors > Reflectivity > Import Color Table.
  3. Using the standard macOS File Picker, navigate to and select the color palette file you wish to import, then click “Open”.
  4. Edit the name of the color palette if you wish to do so, then click “OK”.
  5. In the menu bar, select your newly imported color palette from the options in Colors > Reflectivity to use it when displaying reflectivity products.

Importing a Reflectivity Color Palette on Windows 10

Follow these steps to import an existing color palette file on Windows 10:

  1. To start, you’ll need to put the file somewhere where RadarScope can find it. Your Documents folder is a good place.
  2. Click in the Settings icon in the lower left corner.
  3. Select the Color Palettes tab.
  4. Click on “Reflectivity”.
  5. Click on the “+” button at the top right of the color palette list.
  6. Use File Explorer to select the color palette file you wish to import.
  7. Edit the name of the color palette if you wish to do so, then click “Import”.
  8. Click on the name of the newly imported color palette to use it when displaying reflectivity products.
  9. Click on the close button to exit settings.

Importing a Reflectivity Color Palette on Android

Follow these steps to import an existing color palette file on Android:

  1. To start, you’ll need to put the file somewhere where RadarScope can find it. Your Google Drive is a good place.
  2. Tap on the menu icon at the top left corner.
  3. Tap on Settings
  4. Select the Options tab and scroll to the Appearance section and tap “Color Palettes”.
  5. Tap on “Reflectivity”.
  6. Tap on the “more” button at the top right corner and select “Import Color Palette”.
  7. Use the document picker to select the color palette file you wish to import.
  8. Edit the name of the color palette if you wish to do so, then click “Import”.
  9. Tap on the name of the newly imported color palette to use it when displaying reflectivity products.
  10. Tap on the back button until you exit settings.

Creating a Custom Color Palette for RadarScope

RadarScope 4.2 gives Pro Tier Two subscribers the ability to change the standard color palettes for radar products. Custom color palettes let you choose colors that better meet your needs or viewing preferences. In this post, we’ll walk through the process of creating your own custom color palette from scratch. We’ll be using macOS in this example. The steps are similar on other platforms, with some differences depending on the app you to edit the files.

RadarScope color palettes are defined in plain text files with a “.pal” filename extension. They are based on the format used by Gibson Ridge Software, with some modifications to support certain RadarScope features. You can create a color a palette using any text editor the platform of your choice. For this example, we’ll be using the TextEdit app on macOS to create a custom color palette for reflectivity products.

1. Open the TextEdit app.

Locate the TextEdit app in the Applications folder on your Mac. Double-click the icon to open it.
text edit app icon
2. Create a new document.

From the File menu, select “New” to create a new document. Then from the Format menu, select “Make Plain Text” to change the document format to a plain text file.
text edit app screenshot
3. Enter the Statements to Define the Color Palette.

In your document, you’ll type a series of statements that define your custom color palette. Just enter each of them as shown here. First, every color palette needs a Product statement, which specifies the types of radar products for which it can be used. We’re creating a reflectivity color palette, so we need to enter “BR” or “DR” as the product type.

Product: BR

Every color palette also needs a Units statement to tell RadarScope what units to use when translating the colors in the palette to values in the radar data. Reflectivity products always use units of “DBZ”.

Units: DBZ

Next, you’ll enter a series of Color statements that match values in the radar data with the colors you wish to use to display them. There are several variations of color statements supported by RadarScope. We’ll use the SolidColor variation here. Each statement includes a data value and a set of three values that define the red, green, and blue components of the color. We’ll enter colors for reflectivity values ranging from 5 dBZ to 80 dBZ.

SolidColor: 5 30 0 52
SolidColor: 10 38 6 66
SolidColor: 15 48 15 79
SolidColor: 20 56 24 91
SolidColor: 25 64 31 104
SolidColor: 30 71 36 118
SolidColor: 35 78 42 132
SolidColor: 40 91 60 140
SolidColor: 45 104 76 150
SolidColor: 50 117 93 159
SolidColor: 55 131 110 169
SolidColor: 60 146 127 182
SolidColor: 65 163 146 192
SolidColor: 70 182 170 208
SolidColor: 75 203 194 221
SolidColor: 80 225 221 235

Now that you’ve entered all of those statements, your document should look something like this:
text edit color statements screenshot
4. Save the file.

You’ve created your color palette. Now you need to save the file so you can import it into RadarScope. From the File menu, select “Save…” Give the file a name and select a location in which to save it.
save color palette screen shot
In this example, we’ll be importing the color palette into RadarScope for macOS, so you can save it anywhere on your local disk. If you’re importing the palette into RadarScope for iOS, you may want to save the file to your iCloud Drive where your iOS device can access it.

5. Import the file into RadarScope.

To import your color palette, open RadarScope for macOS. In the Colors menu, select “Reflectivity”, then “Import Color Palette…”
radarscope reflectivity menu import
Locate the color palette file you just saved, select it, and click “Open”.
radarscope reflectivity menu import select file screenshot
If you entered the statements correctly, your file should import without any errors. If errors are reported, open the file in TextEdit again, fix any typos, then try to import it again.

6. Select the Color Palette

Now that you’ve imported your color palette, RadarScope can use it to display reflectivity products. In the Colors menu, select Reflectivity, then the name of your new color palette.
radarscope reflectivity menu customize new palette screenshot
You’re all set! Now RadarScope will use your new color palette when displaying reflectivity products.


Radarscope 4.0

We’re pleased to announce the release of RadarScope 4.0. It’s available today for iOS, macOS, tvOS, and Android. RadarScope 4.0 for Windows enters beta testing today, and will be released as soon as testing is complete. Version 4.0 includes several new customer-facing features today, and under-the-hood changes that will lead to more new features down the road. Here’s a brief look at RadarScope 4.0.

In With The New

RadarScope debuted on the App Store twelve years ago. A lot has changed since then, especially on mobile platforms. This release marks the end of a multi-year effort to reengineer RadarScope’s foundations. We rewrote the code that parses radar data, switched from OpenGL to Metal on Apple platforms, and modernized the Android app to use Google’s Jetpack APIs. The new code runs faster and uses less memory, which in turn frees up resources to do more things. These changes keep us current on Apple and Google platforms and set the stage for new features and improvements in forthcoming releases.

Embracing the future means leaving the past behind. New app features often require the use of new system features, and Apple and Google are dropping support for some older APIs. As a result, RadarScope’s new minimum system requirements are iOS 12, tvOS 12, watchOS 4.3, macOS 10.13, Android 7, Wear OS 2.0, and Windows 10. If you have a device that can’t be updated to the new minimum system requirements, RadarScope 3.13.x will continue to run for the foreseeable future. But we’ll be unable to provide updates for those devices going forward.

Expanded Horizons

We recently extended the range of our super-res products to include the full radar coverage area. Super-res reflectivity for NEXRAD radars now extends to the same 460 km range as base reflectivity. Although this allows you to see returns from farther away, it’s important to remember that at longer distances from the radar, the beam is higher in the atmosphere. You’re seeing echoes from much higher in a storm system, so they are less indicative of conditions near the ground.

Improved Maps

We’re working to give you better maps, and RadarScope 4.0 includes the first fruits of that effort. The new maps feature more detailed geographic and political borders, bodies of water including lakes and rivers, and more city locations.

Around the World in 80 dBZ

RadarScope 4.0 expands our international coverage to include seventeen radars in Germany and one additional radar in Rainbow, Australia. The German radars provide reflectivity and velocity products at ten different tilts. In addition, the Apple Watch and Android Wear apps now support Australian and German radars.

To better support our growing multilingual customer base, RadarScope has been localized to German, French, and Spanish. Most of the UI is covered, though the User’s Guide and other help content remains in English for now. If you see something we missed or got wrong, please report it to our support team.

Need For Speed

The ability to control the loop speed has always been available in the Mac and Windows apps. Now it’s available on iOS and Android too. Look for the Loop Speed slider in the Settings.

Locations Services for Mac and Windows

Mac and Windows now have support for system location services. Because most Mac and Windows devices lack built-in GPS hardware, their location services rely on known wifi router locations and IP address lookup. This is less accurate than GPS or cellular-based location data. It isn’t suitable for mobile situations, but it’s usually sufficient for stationary use.

We’ve also changed the compass direction indicator to more closely resemble the one in Apple’s Maps app. On hardware that supports it, the direction indicator now appears as a small blue arrow that moves around the edge of the location indicator to indicate the direction you’re facing.

Mesoscale Discussions in Tier Two

Mesoscale convective discussions are short-term forecasts of severe thunderstorm conditions such as high winds, hail, and tornadoes. They’re issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Mesoscale discussions have been available in RadarScope through an AllisonHouse data plan. Now they’re also available to Pro Tier Two subscribers.

Special Weather Statements

AllisonHouse customers can now view their Special Weather Statements feed. These statements are issued by the National Weather Service for hazards that have not yet reached warning or advisory status or that lack a specific code of their own.

Warning, Watch, and Report Filters

RadarScope displays five types of NWS warnings and—with an AllisonHouse data plan—two types of NWS watches. Sometimes all those polygons can get in the way of what you really want to see. In RadarScope 4.0, each warning and watch type can be toggled separately in the layer settings. Just tap the filter button next to the on/off switch, then select the types you want to display. When a particular type is turned off, it won’t appear in the list or in the badge count. The same filtering capability is available for different types of mPING, local storm, and spotter network reports.

iPad Cursor Support

Apple added trackpad-driven cursor support to the iPad in April. It’s awesome, and it’s now fully supported in RadarScope on iOS 13.4 and up.

Return of mPING

NSSL’s mPING project recruits citizen scientists to help improve the accuracy of radar precip detection algorithms by reporting weather conditions at their location. mPING went offline several weeks ago for maintenance and system improvements. RadarScope 4.0 restores access to the service. And with the new report type filters, you can decide which types of mPING reports you want to see. mPING service won’t be returning to older versions, so you’ll need to upgrade to 4.0 to resume using it.

Consistent Colors

We’ve normalized the color palettes for several classic products—including reflectivity, VIL, echo tops, and precip products—to match their modern counterparts. This makes it easier to compare those products and easier for us to manage color table changes going forward.

Questions and Feedback

We welcome your feedback and questions. Our support team remains available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at If you need immediate assistance, email them for the quickest response. You can also reach out to @RadarScope on Twitter, or the RadarScope page and RadarScope Users Group on Facebook.


Waterspouts Saturday & Mini Tornado Alley in Wisconsin

Over the weekend a picturesque waterspout was seen on Lake Winnebago in Northeast Wisconsin.  A couple reports had the storm producing a tornado just before moving out over open waters, south of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As it moved over the lake it began to organize and strengthen – as seen on a video also shared by Blake.EF0 Tornado Captured on RadarScopeRadarScope was able to capture the weak circulation via velocity data from the Green Bay radar site. The green here indicates hydrometers moving toward the radar site and the reds away. While not impressive on radar, it was just enough of a circulation to spin up a relatively large waterspout. No damage was reported, as it presumably weakened by the time it reached the other side of the lake.EF0 Tornado Captured on RadarScopeFurthermore, on Saturday a weak tornado was observed to the west of Oshkosh. While preliminarily just rated an EF0, RadarScope did capture the tight circulation moving northeast Saturday evening. Two reports of tornadoes were relayed to the National Weather Service, along with some tree damage in the area.Lake Winnebago is familiar with waterspouts yet are typically weak and not always associated with thunderstorms. The lake sits in a unique location just roughly 30 miles west of Lake Michigan, a much larger lake of course. As with all Great Lakes their vastness and depth mean they take longer to warm up during the spring and summer, compared to the land. Due to the temperature and pressure imbalance a lake breeze can often form if the wind direction does not have a strong westerly component.

Sometimes the lake breeze can work all the way inland to Lake Winnebago, bringing a cool east wind. Occasionally tight spin-ups over the lake are possible if a shower/thunderstorm/or even just a west wind under perfect conditions are in place.

While we do not have extensive or reliable waterspout data, we do have tornado data. The region has been a sort of mini tornado alley relative to the rest of Wisconsin. The five-county area of Waupaca-Outagamie-Winnebago-Calumet-Brown has seen an abnormal number of confirmed tornadoes. Including the likely tornado west of Oshkosh Saturday, the five-county area has seen 34 tornadoes from 2010-2020, 16 of which have been in Outagamie County. The data does not include waterspouts.

Many of the tornadoes over that time were associated with what meteorologists call a quasi-linear convective system (QLCS), which is a line of strong thunderstorms. While it is unclear if the lake breeze played a role in these tornadoes, archived radar does show it was prevalent during a couple of the tornado outbreaks over the past decade. Further research would need to be completed to make any conclusions.


5 Things to Know About RadarScope Before the Upcoming Severe Season


DTN Meteorologists Select their Favorite RadarScope Images of 2019

Each year, extreme and interesting weather conditions across the U.S. appear on radars and, therefore, RadarScope. Over the last few weeks, we asked our DTN meteorologists to pick their favorite radar images of the year. With more than 30 radar products and four different radar tilts across 155 Doppler Radars, more than 10,000 potential images are created every few minutes. We selected fifteen out of the millions of images created and presented them to the meteorologists for voting purposes. We guarantee we probably missed something cool, but here is what the DTN team selected for 2019.


See local snow squall warnings on RadarScope

RadarScope added support for snow squall warnings in June 2019, keeping users aware of changing conditions throughout the winter months. Snow squall warnings are intended to warn the public of reduced visibility due to lake effect and frontal snow squalls.


What is the RadarScope Shield and other commonly-used user terms?

RadarScope serves as a connection point for a large community of users. In fact, we have our own user group on Facebook, where many RadarScope fans go to talk about, learn how to read, and post radar images. That group – like many – has developed their own language or key terminology. Many RadarScope fans are familiar with most of these terms or all of them, but new users may be scratching their heads to figure out what is going on in some of the comments/forums related to RadarScope.


Why do radar gaps exist – how do we gather weather data?

The deployment of NEXRAD radars in the early 1990s was a major step forward in being able to sample precipitation across the Continental United States. However, there are still some limitations within the dense radar network. Due to the curvature of the earth, radar beams cannot see the entire atmosphere as the horizontal beam coming out from the radar increases with height as it moves further from its origin.


What Should I do When the Radar in My Backyard is Down?

From 1992-1997 NEXRAD, more specifically WSR-88D, radars were deployed across the entire country, giving meteorologists a national look at precipitation. Since the 1990s, radar data has become much more readily available to the public, forever changing and increasing the value of these radars. Radarscope uses such data from NEXRAD radars to produce the stunning images seen in the app today.