This winter, the National Weather Service Radar in Jackson will undergo a major upgrade. It will gain the latest dual-pole technology like the Birmingham and Huntsville radars, as well as several others around the country. This is the first major change to radar technology since 1988, and the atmosphere will now be sampled in two dimensions instead of one. Meteorologist In Charge of the Jackson National Weather Service Forecast Office, Alan Gerard, says that the new radar will have a much better handle on identifying types and amounts of precipitation.
"It gives us the ability to know how much and what kind of precipitation is occurring; whether it's hail, whether it's rain, whether it's snow, and do a better job of estimating how much is falling."
The upgrade will also help meteorologists find tornadoes. Right now radar can show rotating thunderstorms, but when tornado season gets in full swing next spring, forecasters will have new radar products to help them find tornado debris.
"When a tornado occurs in certain situations, particularly with stronger tornadoes, it will actually allow us to see the debris that is being picked up by the tornado."
From winter storms to severe thunderstorms, dual pole radar should really help us understand more about how these events work. All 160 radars operated by the National Weather Service across the country should be upgraded by the middle of next year.