Helicopter delivery of first CASA radar unit to University of Texas-Arlington Campus (Photo: WFO Fort Worth)
(Oct. 30, 2012) - The first in a series of collaborative radar units designed to provide faster, more accurate local severe weather information is now installed at the University of Texas-Arlington campus.
It is part of a five-year, multi-million dollar urban demonstration project that could include up to eight dual polarization, Doppler radar units spread throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex by fall of 2013.
Called the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) DFW Urban Demonstration Network, the system will provide real time data to the National Weather Service forecast office in Fort Worth. Even the single unit at the university will begin to provide valuable data when it becomes fully operational in about a month.
CASA radar unit being lowered to Carlisle Hall at the University of Texas-Arlington (Photo: WFO Fort Worth)
"The CASA radars will also provide a dataset for high resolution computer models that could better predict the location and intensity of thunderstorms several hours in advance."
With the existing NEXRAD network of National Weather Service WSR-88D Doppler radars, curvature of the Earth and distance can be limiting factors.
As the distance from the radar site increases, atmospheric information is gleaned at higher and higher elevations; which limits the capability of detecting weather developments at lower elevations.
Clusters of near-ground CASA radars are designed to fill in these low level gaps and serve as supplements to the existing radar network.
As part of a 10 year, $40 million demonstration project funded by a National Science Foundation grant, the CASA concept has already been successfully tested in a rural setting in Oklahoma. Now, the Dallas/Fort Worth project will continue the testing in an urban setting.
"The data from the Oklahoma phase of the project has already proved amazing," said Mark Fox, warning coordination meteorologist for the Fort Worth forecast office. "We are quite excited with the prospect of combining the new CASA data with the information currently available through NEXRAD."
Additional funding for the urban demonstration project has been provided by local partners through the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
Along with the university location, the CASA team plans to install three more radar units in Fort Worth, Denton and Addison in time for the next spring storm season.