(L - R) U.S. Senator Mark Pryor and Representative Tim Griffin (Photo: WFO Little Rock)
(Oct. 5, 2012) - U.S. Senator Mark Pryor and Congressman Tim Griffin joined local, state and federal officials to celebrate the dual polarization radar upgrade at the Little Rock, Ark. forecast office, Oct. 3.
Featured speakers at the dedication ceremony also included NOAA Principal Deputy Undersecretary Margaret Spring, National Weather Service Southern Region Director Bill Proenza, Arkansas Emergency Management Director David Maxwell and Little Rock Meteorologist-in-Charge Renee Fair.
Recounting some of his own experiences with the state's severe weather, Senator Pryor emphasized the important life-saving role of NOAA and the National Weather Service and noted, "For every dollar spent on the National Weather Service, about $14 dollars is returned to the economy."
Echoing the economic value to the nation, Representative Griffin said, "The upgrade for each radar cost about $225,000 and that is money well spent."
NOAA Principal Deputy Undersecretary Margaret Spring and NWS Southern Region Director Bill Proenza (Photo: WFO Little Rock)
With all of the radars scheduled for completion by 2013, the installation schedule is well past the half-way point and remains ahead of schedule.
Currently, National Weather Service Doppler radars provide forecasters information on precipitation intensity and movement (direction and speed). Dual polarization technology adds new information about the size and shape of airborne objects, which will improve estimates of how much rain is falling, improving flash flood detection and warnings.
During winter weather, dual polarization radar can also tell the difference between rain, snow and ice, which gives forecasters a much better idea of what type of precipitation to expect at ground level.
Dual polarization is the most significant upgrade to the nation's weather radar network since Doppler radar was first installed in the early 1990s and is a significant step toward the United States becoming a WeatherReady Nation.