11A.1 NWS Radar Capability Improvements—Update 2011

Wednesday, 28 September 2011: 12:00 AM
Monongahela Room (William Penn Hotel)
Michael J. Istok, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD; and G. S. Cate and R. E. Saffle

The National Weather Service (NWS) and its NEXRAD partner agencies (the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration; Department of Defense, Air Force Weather Agency) are in the midst of a project to implement dual polarization (DP) throughout the WSR-88D network, which is expected to greatly improve rainfall estimates, hydrometeor classification, severe storm analysis, and overall data quality. Field testing of the DP WSR-88D began in February at KVNX (Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma), four more test sites will be added during the summer, and full scale deployment should be underway by the time of the conference. The DP WSR-88D includes an initial set of DP capabilities which provide significant benefits. However, like when Doppler data became widely available in the 1990s, we believe the scientific community will use DP data to greatly improve our understanding of the environment, which will provide opportunities for new and improved techniques and algorithms, and lead to significant improvement in NWS forecast and warning performance.

The NWS is also working to utilize weather data from non-NEXRAD radars. The FAA's 45 Terminal Doppler Weather Radar units now provide NWS forecasters and the broader weather community routine, expanded low altitude coverage and enhanced WSR-88D back-up capabilities. The NWS is also field testing the utilization of data from FAA Air Route Surveillance Radar Model 4 units in Makah, WA, and Watford City, ND, and an Airport Surveillance Radar Model 11 unit in Erie, PA. Other potential non-NOAA radars include Canada, the Caribbean, and TV stations, For a second year, the NWS worked with the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) program to evaluate X-Band data within WFO Norman routine operations. On the horizon are other potential projects for evaluating the operational utility of short wavelength, boundary layer radars to improve low altitude tornado detection and to support storm scale NWP models. Even further out is the potential for incorporation of long- and short-range Phased Array Antenna technology, with its promise of comprehensive, rapid scanning surveillance.

This paper provides a high-level overview of ongoing and anticipated radar improvement projects. Examples of recent accomplishments, including dual polarization products will be shown at the conference.

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