Last week, a Southwest Airlines flight encountered an emergency when a fan blade broke off in one of the engines. When emergency personnel began looking for the missing parts, weather radar proved helpful.
As a fan blade broke, it caused parts of the cowling to come off the engine casing. Some of these pieces were found near Reading, PA and those in the area have been asked to report any additional findings to the National Transportation Safety Board.
NTSB photo of a piece of the engine cowling from @SouthwestAir #flight1380. Thanks to the general public, these and other parts have been found. Anyone who has found additional pieces please contact firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/iV3gJDxf7m
— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) April 18, 2018
As parts of the plane fell last week, they were visible on Super-Res Reflectivity (left) and Correlation Coefficient (right) at Tilt 2. Take a look at the RadarScope loop shown below.
Radars can see much more than precipitation. Bats, bugs, birds, blowing dust, and items falling from the sky are also viewable if you know where to look.