Issues with doppler radar largely resolved after trees cleared in area

Issues with blind spots in doppler radar have mostly been resolved after trees on surrounding...
Issues with blind spots in doppler radar have mostly been resolved after trees on surrounding properties were cleared.(WECT)
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 6:30 PM EST
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SHALLOTTE, N.C. (WECT) - When the weather team tells you it’s time to shelter because of severe weather, the warning comes via a technology called doppler radar.

The radar sends out pulses and tracks rain, ice, and other activity in the atmosphere around us.

“There’s just so many different applications,” said Steven Pfaff, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wilmington. “It’s such an important tool in our tool shed to have as a meteorologist in forecasting and issuing warnings.”

However, as WECT has reported in recent years, the radar in Shallotte hasn’t been able to completely capture weather systems in southeastern North Carolina.

Pine trees on surrounding properties had grown so tall they were causing blind spots in parts of the radar.

When dealing with severe weather like tornadoes or hurricanes, every second counts, and a lack of detection could be dangerous.

That’s why the National Weather Service was looking at a multi-million dollar project to move the doppler radar because of the trees. But meteorologist Steven Pfaff says the problem has mostly been solved after some nearby trees were cleared.

“That has considerably helped improve the beam blockage that we’re having. So ultimately, what that has done is given the agency some time to reassess, see where there still might be some issues potentially.”

The belief is clearing the trees will give meteorologists a clearer picture when it comes to forecasting severe weather, and hopefully help save lives.

Pfaff said it’s important to know where in your home you would go if there was a tornado warning put out. You should go to an interior room on the lowest floor of your home to put as many walls between you and the outdoors as possible.

He also said you should practice your severe weather plan with your family regularly so you’re always prepared.