Lubbock's National Weather Service Doppler radar is being upgraded to dual-polarization technology.
"Right now our forecasters are able to see one dimensionally the precipitation intensity and it's movement," Steve Cobb, science and operations officer at the Lubbock Weather Service office said. "This new technology, the new dual-polarization is going to allow us to see two dimensional, we're not only going to be able to see the intensity, but the shape, the size, and also even the concentration of the precipitation in areas."
Dual-pol adds 14 new radar products, giving forecasters a better picture of what's occurring inside a thunderstorm when ground spotters aren't available. Senior forecast Joe Jurecka says it's a significant step forward.
"In a nutshell, having these new parameters allows us to better diffaerentiate precipitation type," Jurecka said. "Be it just all rain or rain mixed with hail or all stone, etc."
Like any new technology, the full benefits of this upgrade will expand as Weather Service personnel become more proficient with its features and operations. The Lubbock-based meteorologists have been training with Amarillo's dual-pol system, so they already have a head start.
"We did some of our initial training looking at that site and have noticed some trends with it," Jurecka said. "Now we get to bring this information locally back to Lubbock and say 'okay, we've seen this in Amarillo and this is what this means, now lets apply this to warning decisions here in Lubbock'."
The installation process is quite involved, requiring three teams of contractors plus a Lubbock-based technician who has spend many weeks training and prepping for the switch.
"The main thing is make sure we have all our equipment up to par and make sure the actual, the radar itself was operation and there's not going to be any issues with the dual-pol team being here," Mike Samuelson, NEXRAD-ASOS technician for the Lubbock NWS said.
Meteorologist Cobb says this is the team's 35th installation. The cost of the upgrades nationwide is about $50 million.
"But with that cost, also comes a great benefit to the people, to the citizens who have paid for this service," Cobb said.
The radar was back online with the new technology Wednesday.
FOX 34's entire weather staff attended dual-pol training provided by the National Weather Service.