New technology taking radar to three dimensions

March 06, 2012

Your weather forecast is about to get more accurate.

The Sterling, Va., office of the National Weather Service (which covers the Baltimore area) in late February received equipment that uses what is known as dual-polarization technology. What that means is the office has upgraded from two-dimensional to three-dimensional radar that sweeps the skies on both a vertical and horizontal plane, giving it a clearer picture of rain, snow or hail before it reaches the ground.

That means better estimates of rainfall rates, hail presence and size, and the location of the line between rain and snow.

The equipment is almost ready to make an impact on forecasts. A steady, light rain is needed to fine-tune calibrations of the technology, said Calvin Meadows, a meteorological technician at the Sterling office.

The National Weather Service has been gradually rolling out the technology across the country.

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