Boise Radar Down This Week For Upgrades

Sep 5, 2012

Boise will be without radar service for most of this week, but local forecasters say it’s for good reason.  The radar unit that serves the area will be offline for about five days as part of an upgrade. 

Jay Breidenbach is with the National Weather Service office in Boise.  He says radar works by sending out energy and then measuring it once it bounces off precipitation.  Right now, the Boise radar sends that information out on a one-dimensional plane.  After the upgrade, it will do so in two dimensions. 

“It’s gonna double the amount of reflectivity information and so we’re gonna be seeing new things in the atmosphere that we never saw before,” Breidenbach says.  “Even with the great technology that we already have, it’ll be that much better.”   

Forecasters say with double the data, they’ll be able to more accurately predict rain and snow fall totals, see if storms contain hail, and in the winter, better predict when rain will change over to snow. 

Credit National Weather Service

Breidenbach says at this time of year, not having the radar service won’t be a big deal.   

“Normally our severe weather season is in the spring and early part of the summer,” he says.  “We’re getting less and less daytime heating each day.  So while we can’t rule out the possibility of perhaps some thunderstorms or a little bit of rain move through the area, this really is a pretty quiet time of year.”

Upgrades to nearly 160 radar systems across the US- started about a year ago.  Breidenbach says early indications from sites that have already made the upgrade are that the new system will be able to detect birds, dust and even ash from wildfires.     

On the web:  National Weather Service Explainer on Dual Pol

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