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Newest Mobile Radar Will Help Study Rain, Snow Storms

A new mobile weather radar that is the first of its kind in the Southeast will help scientists at The University of Alabama in Huntsville study bands of rain and snow that follow some large storm systems.

The "X-band" radar looks straight up to probe the structures and dynamics of storms as they pass over the university's severe weather research team, according to Dustin Phillips, a research engineer in UAHuntsville's Earth System Science Center.

"With this radar we can see more details in the cloud systems and learn more about what is happening there and why," Phillips said. "This winter, one of the things we are looking at is why bands of rain or snow form or don't form on the back sides of storms. What are the ingredients that go into these wraparound structures?

"These bands can dump a lot of snow or rain after a main storm system has moved through, but they're very difficult to forecast. One of our goals is to improve forecasting, so first we have to gather some data."

That data gathering could begin as early as this week. The UAHuntsville storm chasers might decide as early as Thursday whether they will so south to intercept a rain storm moving up from the Gulf of Mexico or north to meet two large snowstorms moving out of the Arctic into the Midwest.

Purchased through a grant from the National Science Foundation and built by DeTect, Inc., in Longmont, CO, the new X-band radar is part of the university's mobile severe storms research unit, which includes a Doppler radar and other research instruments. The team has used these instruments to intercept and study several tropical storms and hurricanes.

This winter the team is part of a multi-institution program studying winter storms, primarily in the Midwest.

For additional information:
Dustin Phillips, (256) 961-7008
Dr. Kevin Knupp, (256) 961-7762

Dustin Phillips | Newswise Science News
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