ProbertJones Radar Equation Nearly all weather radars transmit a series of discrete pulses of energy that have been concentrated into a relatively narrow beam. Each pulse or packet of energy contains a certain amount of energy that propagates through Earth's atmosphere and illuminates targets of various sizes. The amount of energy returned to the radar is very small (~10^{8} to 10^{14} watts) and can be as much as 20 orders of magnitude smaller than the peak transmitted power. The ProbertJones (PJ) radar reflectivity equation will help to quantify the physical aspects of pulsed EM energy and the associated limitations of target (e.g., precipitation) detection. The PJ equation is described below as
where:

Simplified Radar Equation For the WSR88D, the only variables that are not fixed are returned power (P_{r}), reflectivity (Z), attenuation factor (L_{a}), and range (R). The fixed variables are combined to create a new term which we will refer to as the radar constant, C_{r}. By combining the fixed variables into a radar constant, Equation (1) simplifies into
where C_{r} is the radar constant. Solving for Z, the above equation, Equation (3), becomes
By knowing the returned power and range (based on timing), the above equation, Equation (4), estimates target reflectivity. 
Equivalent Reflectivity vs. Reflectivity (Z_{e} vs. Z) Since we technically don't know the dropsize distribution or physical makeup of all targets within a sample volume, radar meteorologists oftentimes refer to radar reflectivity as equivalent reflectivity, Z_{e}. The assumption is that all backscattered energy is coming from liquid targets whose diameters meet the Rayleigh approximation. Obviously, this assumption is invalid in those cases when large, watercoated hailstones are present in a sample volume. Hence, the term equivalent reflectivity instead of actual reflectivity is more valid. However, to be consistent with WSR88D product mnemonics and the assumption that all backscattered energy is from Rayleigh targets, the term reflectivity (Z) will be used. 