Improved doppler radar dedicated at NWS office

A tornado touches down near Oil Trough (Beth Creasy)
A tornado touches down near Oil Trough (Beth Creasy)
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Updated: 10/03/2012 6:40 pm
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - Central Arkansas is now better prepared to handle severe weather. The National Weather Service office in North Little Rock showed off enhancements to its Doppler radar technology for storm notification.

Deadly tornadoes hit in every season of the year, leaving behind incredible destruction.

Now thanks to new Doppler technology called dual polarization, forecasters have a better sense of what's happening inside a tornado.

The upgrade cost approximately $225,000 to complete during the month of August. Overall, $50 million will be spent nationally to equip all NWS radars with the new technology.

John Robinson with the National Weather Service says the system will do a better job at spotting debris.

“Let’s say there’s a tornado going through the national forest. Well not that many people out there but what if it’s headed towards Mt. Ida and we see debris being lifted? We know the tornado is on the ground even though we haven’t had anyone call in and report it," Robinson says.

Current radars use horizontal beams to sweep storm clouds. Dual polarization or "dual pol" radars sweep with horizontal and vertical beams sending back enhanced images.

"It's not going to work on every tornado, but certainly the bigger tornadoes we will see that,” Robinson says. "We can say definitely that a tornado is occurring and of course once people hear there is something there and damage is being done there definitely more likely to react."

And reaction time can save lives when the next tornado outbreak hits.

The new radar will also help forecasters better predict flash flood rain amounts and be able to decipher different types of frozen precipitation during winter storms.

All NWS radars in the country will receive the upgrade by the end of the year.
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