New Radar Helps Meteorologists Determine Severe Weather Faster

By: Suzanne Wilson Email
By: Suzanne Wilson Email

April 30, 2012

A meteorological advancement is sweeping across the nation and it will help us become more informed.

During severe weather the Newsplex Weather Authority team gets the information to you as soon as we can.

Chief meteorologist Travis Koshko explained our severe weather philosophy, "Anytime that lives or property are at risk we go into storm mode. We get on the air, we update the social media, we make sure that everybody is informed through every possible channel that we have."

The team is quick to tell you what's going on but now, The National Weather Service (NWS) has a new radar that will allow us to give you that information even faster.

Greg Schoor, a NWS Sterling Meteorologist said, "In the past you just saw the horizontal shape of falling rain, snowflakes, hail. Now you see both horizontal and vertical."

The technology is called dual polarization radar, or "dual pol" for short. It allows us to see a 3-D view of what exactly is falling from the storm cloud.

"We can say with nearly 100% certainty, nothing is 100% but with a lot better certainty that this is a hail core, surrounded by heavy rain," said Schoor.

Dual pol radars send out two pulses to get a cross sections of the storm particles. There are then three pieces of data that come out of the cloud scan that are used together to decide the severity of the storm.

The National Weather Service get their information from the radar, then we pass the information along to keep you safe during severe weather. Schoor said, "If a tornado were to touch the ground and to grab some debris it could show that debris ball as it has for some of these mid-western storms. But with some of our severe weather it's mainly going to help in terms of hail."

Severe storms can be tricky to forecast in the Mid-Atlantic because they are short lived. With dual pol we can let you know minutes sooner with more certainty what you will experience.

"Now we can tell them or give them a better idea of what exactly is happening. Hail is a lot different than very heavy rain but both of them can show up the same on a radar," said Koshko.

Dual polarization has already proven to save lives in the United States. By the end of the year the nation will be full equipped with dual pol. This means you'll find out about storms sooner and have more time to protect your family.

Dual pol data is not available online for the public but there are plans to have access to it after the installations are all finished. For those interested in learning more about dual pol radar there are training sessions available online..

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