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Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Enhanced NOAA Weather Radar Coming To Northeast Florida and S.E. Georgia

The National Weather Service is improving its Doppler radar serving Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia by installing the latest dual polarization technology. This technology will give forecasters better information about heavy rainfall in flooding events, hail detection in thunderstorms, and even recognize whether precipitation is in the form of rain, snow or ice.

Significant upgrade

“This is the most significant upgrade to the nation’s weather radar network since Doppler radar was first installed in the early 1990s and is a significant step toward us becoming weather ready,” said Jack Hayes, director of the National Weather Service. “Dual polarization technology provides significantly more information and clearer pictures of current weather conditions, helping National Weather Service meteorologists provide more accurate and timely forecasts.” 

Currently, National Weather Service Doppler radars provide forecasters information on precipitation intensity and movement (direction and speed). Dual polarization technology adds new information about the size and shape of airborne objects, which will improve estimates of how much rain is falling, improving flash flood detection and warnings. During winter weather, dual polarization radar can tell the difference between rain, snow and ice, which gives forecasters a much better idea of what type of precipitation to expect at the ground.

Providing better forecasts

“This radar upgrade will help us provide better forecasts and warnings of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding rainfall for the residents of Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia,” said Steve Letro, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service office in Jacksonville.  

Installation began on February 13th and will last approximately 10 more days. During the upgrade, adjacent National Weather Service, Air Force, and Federal Aviation Administration weather radars will provide coverage. Installation of dual polarization technology in all 122 National Weather Service radars is expected to be completed in 2013. Thirty-eight other operational WSR-88D systems, owned by the Air Force and FAA, will also be enhanced.

The National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. It operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. Working with partners, the National Weather Service is building a Weather-Ready Nation to support community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather.  

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