Company hopes new radar closes up gap

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (WDEF) – During severe weather, meteorologists use radar to detect potential threats to life and property.

However, radar coverage is not equal in all areas.

The National Weather Service says they have 155 radars in the United States and its territories.

While they cover the majority of the American population centers and provide critical information, there are other areas that are too far away from any radar to get adequate coverage.

This lack of coverage can turn into a life or death situation if a tornado isn’t caught on radar.

Climavision, a private company based in Kentucky, hopes that their network of radars will plug in existing radar gaps across the country.

Chris Goode, the CEO and Founder of Climavision, said that “the further you get away from those radars, when you combine the curvature of the Earth with the fact that the beam of energy these radars are transmitting gets higher and higher in the atmosphere, that combines to create these low level gaps, or blind spots, that we have in the existing coverage.”

The new radar, being built outside of Crossville in Cumberland County, should cover portions of Middle and Eastern Tennessee.

This includes a large portion of the Tennessee Valley.

News 12 Chief Meteorologist Austen Onek said that “It is imperative to make sure as many people are covered by radars if at all possible. We have the Hytop radar around Huntsville, down toward Atlanta, up toward Knoxville and Nashville, but there is a small portion of the area especially north of the Tennessee line that does not have adequate coverage at this point.”

Onek knows first hand the problems that can arise out of a radar gap from his time as a meteorologist in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

A deadly tornado that killed two people struck the Fort Smith area the night of April 21, 1996.

Onek said, “We saw it coming, but the National Weather Service where the radars were positioned between Tulsa and Little Rock, right in that area. The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning and that highlighted the fact that we had this gap between these two areas that couldn’t quite see properly what was going on.”

Climavision hopes that their ability to plug these radar gaps will be able to avoid situations like the Fort Smith tornado and save lives.

Goode said, “We’re in the business of lead times, and lead times, to get people advanced warning as soon as possible so you can make appropriate adjustments to your locations, and get yourself into a proper structure where you have a better chance of weathering these types of storms.”


A new weather radar being installed in Cumberland County, Tennessee by Climavision. (Courtesy: Climavision)

The National Weather Service will still be in charge of issuing weather warnings.

Climavision says they plan to partner with government and private partners to make this radar data accessible.

Their first radar filling a gap in the area of North Carolina around Charlotte, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem was completed last fall.

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