NWS gets new 'spin' on old technology - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

NWS gets new 'spin' on old technology

PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) - A recent weather radar update at the National Weather Service site in Paducah will give scientists a better understanding of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

One single strand of code has slashed the time it takes to perform a sweep during tornadoes and severe storms.

It's a huge development for the most vital tool in a meteorologist's hands during severe weather: the Doppler radar.

"It basically determines how much of the atmosphere we look at," said Pat Spoden with the National Weather Service.

We are now able to get twice as much data thanks to the Supplemental Adaptive Intra-Volume Low-Level Scan software update.

Spoden said SAILS may give scientists a better understanding of a storm's strength and movement.

"You're seeing now a new piece of information every two minutes and twenty seconds versus every four minutes," Spoden said.

Meteorologists watch the lowest level of the storm closely but it takes quite some time for the radar to gather fourteen different "slices" of the atmosphere.

This software will re-scan the lowest three parts of the storm before proceeding to the higher elevations.

These additional scans will help forecasters better determine wind speeds and tornado potential within thunderstorms.

"What the radar is doing is sending out information, pieces of energy," Spoden said. "When that energy hits something such as a raindrop or piece of hail, part of that energy comes back."

Spoden added that more information can lead to a better "heads-up" when severe weather is approaching.

"Whether it's a tornado or a storm moving in, it gives people more information to make better decisions," he said.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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