U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD) today announced that the National Weather Service has upgraded its Sioux Falls forecast office with life-saving technology. The office has been equipped with the new dual polarization radar that will give meteorologists more tools to track weather and alert the public.
"South Dakotans know far too well how quickly our weather can turn dangerous," said Johnson. "This upgrade will give the talented National Weather Service professionals the tools they need to follow weather patterns and make sure folks know what to expect."
"Safety is the number one priority in forecasting the weather," said Thune. "Details about the size and scope of a storm can make a difference in ensuring the safety of thousands of families across South Dakota. This upgraded technology will be a significant step-forward to ensure the National Weather Service professionals have the tools they need to predict timely, accurate forecasts to help keep South Dakota families alert and safe."
"The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls has long been a committed partner to the people of South Dakota, in face of flooding, tornadoes, blizzards and drought," said Rep. Noem. "Living in South Dakota, we know the weather can be relentless. This advanced technology allows forecasters to produce more accurate and detailed forecasts, which in turn help protect the 800,000 lives the Sioux Falls office serves."
According to the National Weather Service, the upgrade to dual polarization is a significant enhancement to the nation's NEXRAD radar network. The upgrade includes new software and a hardware attachment to the radar dish, which allow it to send and receive both horizontal and vertical pulses, and provide 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. Current conventional Doppler can only provide information about the intensity of precipitation.
The Sioux Falls forecast office serves over 800,000 people in 45 counties in South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska. National Weather Service radars in Rapid City and Aberdeen have also been upgraded to dual polarization.