New NWS technology to enhance storm forecasting


LITTLE ROCK — The National Weather Service office in Little Rock has installed new technology that will more accurately track severe weather and provide faster warnings of dangerous situations, officials announced Wednesday.

The Little Rock forecasting site has upgraded its NEXRAD Doppler radar software and hardware for dual polarization. The upgrade to “dual-pol” technology that will provide enhanced information about the size, shape, density and intensity of the precipitation in clouds.

“Flooding has always been our most dangerous and costly weather hazard in the state,” said Renee Fair, meteorologist-in-charge of the Little Rock forecast office. “The information we gather from the new dual polarization radar will allow forecasters to issue more accurate and timely warnings of flooding and flash flooding across the state.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, were present for the announcement Wednesday.

Officials said the new technology, the most significant enhancement made to the nation’s NEXRAD radar network since Doppler radar was first installed in the early 1990s, also will enable forecasters to confirm a tornado even at night and help detect hazards to aircraft, such as icing conditions and birds.

The Little Rock forecast office serves more than 1.5 million people in 45 counties in Arkansas.

Little Rock is one of 160 radar sites being upgraded nationwide, with the potential to save the U.S. approximately $700 million annually, according to the weather service.