8B.1
NWS radar projects—update 2011

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 10:30 AM
NWS radar projects—update 2011
607 (Washington State Convention Center)
Robert E. Saffle, Noblis, Inc., Falls Church, VA; and M. J. Istok and G. S. Cate

The National Weather Service (NWS) continually seeks to enhance its weather radar capabilities. This paper provides a high-level overview of ongoing and anticipated projects. Many of the projects are conducted under the umbrella of the NEXRAD Product Improvement (NPI) Program, established by the NEXRAD tri-agencies (Department of Commerce, National Weather Service; the Department of Defense, Air Force Weather Agency; the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration) as a long-term activity to steadily improve WSR-88D science and technology. New WSR-88D algorithms and technology continue to be fielded on the open systems Radar Product Generator (ORPG) and open systems Radar Data Acquisition (ORDA). The NWS and its NEXRAD partner agencies are also in the midst of a project to implement dual polarization (DP) throughout the WSR-88D network, which will vastly improve rainfall estimates, hydrometeor classification and overall data quality. The DP upgrade was developed and tested on the National Severe Storms Laboratory WSR-88D, and is expected to be undergoing field testing at several operational sites by the time of the Conference. The DP schedule and data examples will be shown at the Conference.

The NWS is also working to utilize weather data from non-NEXRAD radars. The FAA's 45 Terminal Doppler Weather Radar units are now providing WFO forecasters 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 Watford City, ND, and Makah, WA, and an Airport Surveillance Radar Model 11 unit in Erie, PA. Other potential non-NOAA radars include TV stations, Canada and the Caribbean. Recently, the NWS has 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. A bit further out is the potential for incorporation of long- and short-range Phased Array Antenna technology, with its promise of comprehensive, rapid scanning surveillance.