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Hi Reddit, we're Jessica Schultz, Kurt Hondl, Terry Schuur, and Katie Wilson, NOAA scientists in Norman, Oklahoma. We're here to answer your questions on weather radar research and improvements. Ask us anything!
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When severe weather strikes anywhere in the United States, weather radar is one of the most important tools forecasters use to track storms and warn the public. The current system, known as the WSR-88D radar or NEXRAD, provides the best quality data available in the world, and is the most reliable. We are radar specialists and work in at the Radar Operations Center, the support center for the nation’s radar system, and at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma, which houses scientists from a variety of organizations, including NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies. The NEXRADs were deployed in the early to mid-1990s and were upgraded with new dual-polarization technology a few years ago. To keep them running for another 30 years, a $150 million, seven-year effort is underway to refurbish and replace major system components such as the signal processor, transmitter, pedestal, and equipment shelters. NSSL researchers are developing the next big advancement – phased array radar. It has a unique flat panel antenna made up of a grid of fixed elements, and each can transmit and receive a signal. As a result, the radar beam can be steered electronically, giving users the ability to control how, when and where the radar scans. This will provide forecasters with faster updates. We are ready to answer your questions today from 1-3 p.m. ET about all of it, so ask us anything!