Several sources are reporting that the National Weather Service office in Morristown and Nashville are set to get new radar installations.
|A tornadic vortex signature from the new
dual-polarization radar (credit NOAA)
The next generation of weather radar, called dual-polarization radar, is currently being installed in Nashville, and Morristown by the end of the month.
It's already installed in the Memphis facility and will be able to more accurately tell the meteorologists what type of weather is coming our way, and more importantly, if there's debris on the ground. It can tell the differences between rain, heavy rain, snow, and hail. More info on this new radar can be downloaded here.
|A dual-polarization radar scan showing different
types of precipitation in one sweep (credit NOAA)
However, don't think it's a replacement for SKYWARN spotters. They'll still be in use to confirm what the radar is seeing and report from the "fringe areas" where the radar may not be able to determine what's going on because of the terrain (East Tennessee is in the mountains after all) or in the rare event that the radar gets knocked offline. I've been on the air calling a SKYWARN net when Morristown's radar got hit by lightning several years ago, knocking them offline. They were relying on ham radio operators to relay what was going on, as they tried to gauge the severe weather from radar stations in Huntsville, Nashville, and southwest Virginia, where the East Tennessee area was on the very fringe of their radar scans.
So, this is great news for the area I'm in (and it's being installed all across the country), but it's also a time to remember that, in the possible event of a catastrophic failure ham radio operators will still be around to report on the weather "when all else fails".