Watch CBS News

New Radar Technology Will Help With Warnings

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - A new type of radar is coming to North Texas.  Dual Polarization Radar will be installed in December of 2011.  This new type of radar will allow for better information about winter weather and severe weather.

Here's how it works.  The Doppler radar used today sends out one beam in a horizontal direction.  This beam bounces off rain drops, snowflakes, or ice in the clouds.  The amount of the beam that returns back to the radar is measured and that is how we can tell the intensity of storms.

Dual Polarization Radar sends out two beams.  The one like we have now in the horizontal.  But now there is a second beam that is in the vertical.  This vertical beam will be able to tell us the shape of the object that it sees in the clouds.

For instance, a raindrop looks like a hamburger in the sky.  It is not shaped like a teardrop.  That hamburger shape bounces more of the horizontal beam back to the radar and not as much of the vertical beam.

A snow flake is more spherical.  It's basically round.  The Dual Polarization Radar will have an equal amount of the horizontal and vertical beam bounce off that snowflake so the radar will know it is round.

By knowing the shape of the precipitation in the clouds we can tell whether it is rain or snow.  This will allow us to be able to tell people with more accuracy when rain will be changing over to snow where they live.

The Dual Polarization Radar will also allow us to better be able to tell if a storm is actually producing a tornado.  The new sensitivity of the two radar beams will allow us to see if debris is being thrown in the sky.  The radar can tell the difference between what is rain and what is dust and dirt thrown into the air by a tornado.

Now we rely on storm spotters to give us a human vantage point of the storms.  They will still be very important to severe weather coverage.  But now in areas where we may not have spotters, the Dual Polarization Radar will help us know for sure whether or tornado is actually on the ground.

Again, we have another year before this gets implemented in North Texas, but there are some exciting things in the near future when it comes to radars.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.