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National Weather Service Radar to Receive an Upgrade

(Courtesy of NOAA)

The National Weather Service Doppler Radar serving southeast Wyoming and western Nebraska will be enhanced with the latest dual-polarization technology beginning in October. John Griffith, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cheyenne, says conventional Doppler radars send out a horizontal pulse that gives forecasters a one‐dimensional picture of whatever is in the air, precipitation or non‐precipitation. It can see precipitation, but can’t tell the difference between rain, snow, or hail. Dual‐polarization radar sends and receives both horizontal and vertical pulses, providing a much more informative two‐dimensional picture of whatever is out there.  Griffith says the new technology can better detect heavy rainfall, and improve hail detection in thunderstorms. Dual polarization radar technology can also detect the presence of airborne tornado debris, giving a forecaster a high degree of confidence that a damaging tornado is occurring. Dual-polarization technology has already been installed in Riverton, Wyoming. Griffith says installation in Cheyenne will begin on October first, requiring the radar to be offline for about two weeks. Griffith says the installation of dual-polarization technology in all 122 National Weather Service radars is expected to be completed in 2013. Thirty eight other doppler radars owned by the U. S. Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration will also be upgraded.

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