National Weather Service Radars Get Major Upgrade


By Brian Neudorff

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Doppler radar has been in place across the United States for the last 20 years. It is a major tool for meteorologist and weather forecasters when looking at the weather. These radars are now getting a major upgrade.

This upgrade uses new technology called dual polarization or dual pol for short, allowing meteorologist and forecasters to view the weather in a whole new way. The Doppler radar in Boise was upgraded in August of last year and the radar in Pocatello upgraded in October.

Meteorologist Tim Barker, from the National Weather Service in Boise, Idaho explains, “Dual Pol allows us to see inside the storm, and more information about the things inside the storm. We can determine hail stones from rain, snow from ice… It allows us to discriminate between different types of particles we can tell hail from other things, dust and bugs and things like that, our radar’s very sensitive. With that we can tell dust storms, get much more information about those things heading towards an area.”

With dual polarization, the radar sends out two beams instead of one, this scan the sky horizontally and vertically detecting the size and shape of particles in the sky. How will this new technology benefit southern Idaho?

Dean Hazen, meteorologist from the National Weather Service office in Pocatello, Idaho points out, “In terms of Idaho weather, there’s really two things. One is the detection of hail, that’s clearly one we’re interested in. Second one will be flash flooding. We’re expecting to get much better estimates of precipitation amounts than we did with the conventional Doppler radar.”

“Has a lot of implication here also with winter weather now we can see snow and ice, tell when it is switching from rain to snow, all those kinds of thing are things we couldn’t see in the old radar and now with this upgrade we can see that information,” explains meteorologist Tim Barker.

This new Dual Pol Technology will help the Weather Authority Storm Team provide even better local weather for Southern Idaho…

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