New weather radar testing starts this year


NORMAN, Oklahoma (WDTN) – A new weather radar will be tested in Norman, Oklahoma this year.

The technology was first developed by the United States Navy to track missiles. The National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma began testing a Multi-function Phased Array Radar for weather research in 2003.

The MPAR has multiple radar beams that can be focused on different parts of the atmosphere. Data is updated every 30 seconds. The current radar only has one rotating radar beam. Data is updated every 4 minutes. 

The benefit of the current radar WSR-88Ds is Dual-Polarization. A technology used to detect different precipitation types. 

The brand new weather radar at the National Weather Radar Testbed combines the Multi-function Phased Array with Dual-Pol. 

They hope to use the radar for the first time this spring.

Researchers using the MPAR are already able to issue tornado warnings twice as fast as meteorologist using WSR-88Ds. Adding dual-pol to the phased array technology will combine the benefits. 

Scientists hope to issue warnings at least 20 minutes ahead of time and reduce false warnings. 

There are still many years of testing ahead of the Advanced Technology Demonstrator. The current National Weather Service radars are expected to last until at least 2030. 

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