A new state-of-the-art radar dish that will mean more accurate weather forecasts for Wearside has been lifted into place.
The giant dish, located at High Moorsley, is part of a major upgrade of the Met Office radar network providing more accurate, detailed data essential for successful forecasts and crucial for issuing warnings of heavy rainfall events.
The Met Office say the radar gives an accurate live picture of rain, hail and snow.
Richard Bennett, Senior Project Manager said; “Scientific advances mean we can now capture the size and shape of raindrops as well as their composition (ice, water, snow), which will lead to improvements in accuracy of rainfall measurements, particularly during high impact weather events.
“The new radar network has also begun to capture wind speed measurements.”
The High Moorsley radar is the oldest in the north east and is part of the Met Office 30 year old Radar Network.
There are 16 radars in the network and the High Moorsley site was first opened in July 2009.
The new dish developed in-house by Met Office engineers, was put in place using heavy lifting gear.
Met Office operational meteorologist Catherine Maguire, 24, said the new dish would cover a 250km area and was an upgrade to the previous dish due to its ‘dual-polarisation’ capability. This dual-pol radar helps forecasters clearly identify rain, hail, snow or ice pellets, and other flying objects, improving forecasts for all types of weather.
She said: “The upgrade of the radar at High Moorsley will provide meteorologists with better data to assess droplet size which will allow our forecasts to be slightly more accurate.
“The radar will undergo testing until mid November and if it is working correctly it will go operational.
“It will cover a radius of around 250km and the upgrade means it will require less maintenance, so instead of needing to be maintained every three months, it will only need to be maintained once or twice a year.
“The radar will provide us with more accurate weather forecasts in terms of droplet size and will also provide us with ore information on the wind.
“One of the big parts of the job is verifying the radar data and showers are particularly important, so with the radar dish we can see how those rain showers are developing and we can get a better idea of where they are going to travel.”