U.S. Senator John Hoeven announced today that the National Weather Service's Forecast Office in Bismarck now has an upgraded Doppler radar serving the state with a new life-saving technology. Hoeven joined the Bismarck office in unveiling the dual polarization, or "dual pol" radar, which provides meteorologists with enhanced information to more accurately track, assess and warn the public of approaching high-impact weather.
The upgrade to dual-pol is the most significant enhancement made to the nation's NEXRAD radar network since Doppler radar was first installed in the early 1990s. The upgrade includes new software and a hardware attachment to the radar dish allowing it to send and receive both horizontal and vertical pulses, providing a much more informative two-dimensional picture about the size and shape of the objects detected. This provides meteorologists with the ability to determine the kind of object, whether rain, snow, hail or birds. Conventional Doppler could only provide information about the intensity of precipitation.
"Farmers, businesses, industry, utilities and working families in North Dakota all rely on timely and accurate weather forecasts to ensure they remain safe in their homes, businesses and vehicles," Hoeven said. "This new radar technology will help NOAA's National Weather Service provide them with a clearer picture of current weather conditions and better information to protect their lives and livelihoods."
Another important benefit: dual-pol can also see debris kicked up by a tornado, which gives forecasters the ability to confirm a tornado even in the dark. Additionally, the new technology will help detect hazards to aircraft such as icing conditions and birds.
The Bismarck forecast office serves 375,000 people in 36 counties and three reservations in North Dakota.
"Dual-pol radar will provide us with better rainfall estimates which will help forecasters make better decisions about when to issue a flash flood warning. Dual-pol will also support more accurate river level forecasts from our River Forecast Centers," said Jeff Savadel, meteorologist-in-charge, Bismarck forecast office.
The nationwide upgrade to dual-pol is part of NOAA's efforts to build a Weather-Ready Nation. Dual-pol radars also could save the nation about 700 million dollars annually by reducing weather-related damages. For more about the new weather radar, watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tX6LH_l3P3Y.