Doppler radar upgrade adds dimension to weather forecasting

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) — Going Dual-Pol

The Doppler radar was perhaps the most significant advance in weather technology ever invented and, now, it’s getting its most significant upgrade ever.

Essentially, Doppler radar has always sent out waves horizontally. Dual-pol, or dual-polarized radar, literally adds another dimension to Doppler.

National Weather Service Operational Meteorologist, Jeff Garmon said, “From a meteorological standpoint it is the most significant increase we’ve had since the advent of Doppler radar.”

The upgrade will allow the radar to not just see particles in the atmosphere, but their size as well. It’ll make differentiating between rain, sleet, and snow in a winter event much more precise.

“We don’t have a lot of observations across the inland counties as far as temperatures so sometimes that freezing line can be a little tricky. The radar data will help us determine where the ice potential is going to be,” Garmon said.

Technicians started installing the new radar hardware Monday morning. They hope to get it fully installed before the end of the week.

Could effect tornado calling

Perhaps the biggest leap forward will be the ability to discern tornado debris. That will give forecasters confidence that a tornado is on the ground, even with just radar confirmation.

“This is going to be one of those signals that we’re going to look for to determine if we have a large tornado that’s lifting debris to cloud base,” Garmon said. 

In the FOX10 StormTracker Center, the software upgrade has already been made. That will allow FOX10 Meteorologists to use the new data as well and bring it to you when your area is affected by significant weather.

In a severe weather situation, the new Dual-pol technology will bring us even more information, and, when seconds count, there’s no such thing as too much information.

Click here to learn more about the Dual-pol upgrade.

Copyright 2014 WALA TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Known as the “Heart of Dixie,” Alabama has a population of over 4.6 million residents. Montgomery is the capital city. Other major cities include Birmingham, Mobile, and Huntsville.
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