National Radar Network Upgrade To Give Forecasters Quicker, More Thorough Information

A significant upgrade recently completed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Radar Operations Center has allowed the worldwide network of Doppler weather radars to produce better information faster. Known as the Next Generation Radar or NEXRAD, the 158 operational and 8 support radars are operated by the Departments of Commerce, Transportation and Defense.

An event to recognize all of the agencies involved in the development, testing and deployment of the radar upgrade was held in Norman this morning. Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly USAF (Ret.), director of the National Weather Service, attended and presented the plaques.

During the upgrade, a new Open Radar Product Generator (ORPG) replaced technology designed in the mid-1980s. The radar product generator is the part of NEXRAD that processes the raw data gathered by the radar, performs data quality checks, creates radar images and products for display, and sends those products to display systems such as the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System used by NOAA’s National Weather Service.

“Ultimately, all Americans benefit from this upgrade,” said Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly USAF (Ret.), director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “The ORPG installation, coupled with continued improvements to the hardware and software used in the NEXRAD system, will give forecasters higher resolution radar images, higher quality data and the ability to scan storms in new ways. This improves the National Weather Service’s ability to provide forecasts and warnings of severe weather.”

Additional benefits of the new ORPG system include easier field maintenance, faster technology upgrades, larger volumes of data for users, and the ability to release new software to the field more frequently.

The NEXRAD Doppler weather radar is a key component of the $4.5 billion National Weather Service modernization program. NEXRAD Doppler weather radar, in part, has helped National Weather Service forecasters double the lead time for tornado warnings to an 11-minute average in 2002. Increasing lead times for issuing warnings will potentially increase the numbers of lives saved.

The Radar Operations Center in Norman, Okla., provides centralized meteorological, software, maintenance and engineering support for all NEXRAD systems. More information about the Radar Operations Center is available online at http://www.roc.noaa.gov.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. To learn more about National Weather Service, please visit http://www.nws.noaa.gov.