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Local radar getting important upgrade

By Rachael Plath, Good Morning Colorado Meteorologist/Reporter, r.plath@krdo.com
Published On: Apr 01 2013 07:02:55 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 01 2013 07:19:17 PM CDT

The National Weather Service is currently upgrading the Doppler radar located outside of Pueblo and will incorporate dual-polarization technology, which will improve Stormtracker 13 capabilities.

As part of a nationwide upgrade, the Doppler radar located outside Pueblo is getting new hardware and software. 

This upgrade will implement dual-polarization technology. 

Dual-polarization, or dual-pol, means that rather than emitting one beam, the radar will emit two beams simultaneously.  One beam will be emitted horizontally, while the other is emitted vertically.

“Now we’re going to have a three-dimensional look at the precipitation particulates,” said Jennifer Stark, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

Since each precipitation type has its own unique shape, this new technology will make it easy for the Stormtracker 13 meteorologists to determine whether the precipitation the radar is detecting is rain, snow, melting snow or hail.

The dual-polarization technology will also allow meteorologists to determine with a high degree of accuracy if there is a tornado on the ground because the two beams will be able to detect debris lifted from the ground by the tornado.

“It’s amazing what we can do with the technology.  With this remote sensing device we can tell from 100 miles away that, hey, there’s life-threatening weather.  It’s amazing how it works,” said Stephen Hodanish, National Weather Service meteorologist.

The new technology will also increase the accuracy of precipitation estimates, which will be helpful when assessing the flash flood threat near the burn scar. 

"It's probably the most significant upgrade to the Doppler radars that we've had in many, many years and maybe the most significant upgrade to the hardware and the software technology what we will have for another decade," said Stark.

The upgrade is underway, and is expected to be completed by April 13.

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