WeatherWeather News


'Radar is like HD today compared to 1974:' New upgrades help spot tornadoes as they form

When storms threaten, technology is our weapon
Posted at 6:22 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 19:45:05-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — New radar technology can mean the difference between life and death when severe weather strikes. 

The National Weather Service, along with your 41 Action News Weather Team, is using a new tool to keep you safe in severe storms. 

It’s called dual polarization radar. It’s the latest cutting-edge detection system for tornadoes and large hail.

“This radar is sending out horizontal and vertical pulses,” said Scott Blair, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Prior to dual polarization radar, we could only see the rotation within a storm. Now, with that dual polarization upgrade, we can see the debris inside those tornadoes and how high it’s lofted.”

It’s like looking at the storm with two eyes instead of just one. This gives us a much better picture of the objects in those storms. Is the storm filled with rain, hail – even bugs or birds? 

With this new technology, meteorologists can confirm a tornado touchdown without it being spotted visually. This will lead to better warnings for people in our community.

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It was put to good use on March 6, 2017, right before Oak Grove was hit by a destructive tornado that was shrouded in rain and the darkness of night. Your 41 Action News Weather Team gave advanced warning so people could take cover.

“With Oak Grove, we were able to see when that tornado started to go through that community. The debris lofted in the air, and we were able to convey that immediately, saying we see debris on radar,” said Blair.

The new radar upgrades are not just critical to meteorologists at the National Weather Service. Your 41 Action News Weather Team gets that exact same data right into 41 StormTracker. Now, we can bring you potentially lifesaving information during severe weather outbreaks.