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National Weather Service upgrades its radar

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NEWPORT, Carteret County - Doppler radar is a very important tool for meteorologists but it does have limitations. A new radar upgrade, called SAILS, was installed at the National Weather Service in Newport. This upgrade will help improve on some of those limitations.

Right now, a typical radar scans the atmosphere starting at the lowest level and works its way up thousands of feet. During severe weather, it is important to consistently have a good picture of the lower levels of a storm. The low levels are where most of the action is taking place. This new radar update called SAILS, or supplemental adaptive intra volume low level scan, will provide multiple scans in lower levels of the atmosphere.

"We can get a total of four low level elevations scans in just the time that it would take to get one so the old way of doing things, we would get one of those low elevation scans every 4.5 minutes now will this new meso-sails upgrade, we can get one every 75 to 90 seconds. So you're saving as much as three minutes," Rich Bandy, Meteorologist In Charge, said.

What that means is the radar begins at the lowest level and completes its scan of the sky. During a storm, once the radar reaches the middle elevation, it will return to the lowest level to complete another full scan of the important part of the storm.

Being able to paint a picture of the low levels of a storm will provide storm warnings more quickly than old fashioned radar. This radar upgrade allows meteorologists at StormTrack 12 to alert you to severe weather quickly and accurately.

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