weather office has updated radar and will soon have a Facebook
Service office in Newport, N.C., has new upgraded radar technology to
help meteorologists enhance the forecasts for our area.
It is based on dual-polarization, or dual-pol, technology, and the
eastern North Carolina office is only the second in the nation to get
the upgrade. The first was installed in Phoenix, Ariz.
In addition, the meterologists at the Weather Service will be asking to
be your friend when the office joins the age of social media with a
Facebook page, set to debut on Monday, Aug. 15.
The new radar technology was installed in June and had the local radar
shut down for about 10 days.
Hal Austin, a meteorologist who is the office’s point person on the
dual-pol radar, is clearly enthusiastic about his office being chosen
as a test site for a technology that will eventually be installed at
the more than 120 radars in the National Weather Service network.
According to the NOAA’s Severe Storm Forecast Laboratory website,
radars send out short bursts of radio waves called pulses. The pulses
bounce off particles in the atmosphere and the energy is reflected back
to the radar dish.
the returned signals and, through algorithms, can make conclusions
about what kinds of particles it "saw," including the directions they
are moving (the Doppler effect), and the speed of their movement.
known as Doppler -- radar transmits horizontal pulses, which give a
measure of the horizontal dimension of the cloud
water and cloud ice) and precipitation (snow, ice pellets, hail and
also called dual-polarization
radars, transmit radio wave pulses that have both horizontal and
information from vertical pulses will greatly improve many different
types of forecasts and warnings for hazardous weather,” according to
the even better rainfall forecast it can give us,” Austin said.
meteorologists can more accurately forecast the amount of rainfall and
improve forecasts about flooding and stream and river flow.
meteorologists distinguish types of precipitation, such as between
heavy rain and hail. In winter, the dual-pol can distinguish
whether precipitation is rain, freezing rain, snow, or sleet.
Austin says it can even tell whether the snow is heavy and wet or dry
and powdery and will enable better forecasts of the amount of snow.
pilots, Austin said, by showing exactly where the freezing level – or
bright band – is in the atmosphere.
added, in identifying strong updrafts in thunderstorms.
will improve the detection and mitigation of non-weather echoes on the
radar, such as ground clutter.
a major reason that Newport was chosen as the second test site for
to the water makes it a good site to find out more about a phenomenon
called “sea clutter.”
experience echo returns over the water and we don’t know for sure what
it is,” he explained. “We know from the satellite that there are no
storms, but we see the echo.”
Newport will be exploring the sea-clutter phenomenon and ways to
eastern North Carolina is a coastal area that frequently experiences
tropical storms and hurricanes, Austin said, was probably also a
consideration in awarding the second dual-pol to Newport.
situation,” he said, “it will help us pinpoint where the heavy rain is
“good” at that, but dual-polarization is even better.
Several Storms Forecast Laboratory website, dual-polarization
technology has potential to save the U.S. about $690 million annually
by improving precipitation estimates.
the area is
in a severe drought and precipitation has been scarce since the
dual-pol began operating, Austin said there have been a few storm
events in which it performed really well – especially in pinpointing
spreading the word about the Newport Weather Office’s new Facebook
page, which is being developed by webmaster Jeremy Schulz.
It will go
live at 8
a.m. on Aug. 15.
On it, the
office will post weather news and hazardous weather stories and ask
people to post their severe weather reports and pictures.
able to ask the meteorologists questions, and folks will be encouraged
to post photos from severe weather that will help inform forecasters
and the public about such things as waterspouts, ocean overwash on
Highway 12, or soundside flooding.
forecast such things as marine warnings for waterspouts or the
probability of ocean overwash, but often don’t know if that weather
Weather Newport office can be found online at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/mhx/DualPol.php
links to learn more about dual-pol technology:
Training for NWS Partners
(includes training for
Non-NWS partners, and Non-Meteorologists too!)
Severe Storms Laboratory Dual-Pol Page
Severe Storms Laboratory Dual-Pol FAQ Page