Doppler Radar Technology Takes Leap into 21st Century with Dual Pol Upgrade

Published 02/26 2013 09:45PM

Updated 02/27 2013 05:51PM

CHARLESTON, WV & STERLING, VA - Doppler Radar has been used for more than three decades in weather forecasting and severe weather research, and now that technology is joining the 21st Century.

If you drive by the National Weather Service offices across the country, you're used to seeing a "soccer ball dome" protecting the National Weather Service's 28 foot Doppler Radar.

"Essentially a radar previously has sent out a beam in the horizontal orientation, dual pol adds a beam in the vertical direction, and that lets us find what kind of particles we're looking at out there and gives us more information on the variety and shape and their size," says Johnathan Wolfe, emergency support services meteorologist at the National Weather Service, in Charleston, W. Va. 

With this new dual pol technology meteorologists say they'll be able to see into thunderstorms better and to see what is actually going on inside storms that could be as tall as 45 to 50 thousand feet up in the atmosphere.

"It will basically show us where the hail is in storms a lot clearer than we ever could before. It also helps us with heavy precipitation rates and identify areas that are prone to flash flooding based on radar signatures," says Wolfe.

And when tornadoes touch down, the new radar technology will help them in finding where debris is being scattered close to the radar.

"If radar picks up a tornado within 30 to 40 miles on the radar which is actually causing debris to be lofted into the air, dual pol will let us know that," says Wolfe. 

During winter weather the new radar will also help determine what type of wintry precipitation is falling; whether snow, sleet or freezing rain.

For more information on Dual Pol Radar, click here: National Weather Service Warning Decision Training Branch - Dual Pol Radar

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