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NOAA 200yrs

NWS Cleveland WSR-88D Radar Received Dual Polarization Upgrade

Installation Took Place Nov 29- Dec 14, 2011

Doppler radar

The National Weather Service Doppler Radar in Cleveland received an important upgrade to incorporate new dual-polarization technology.

“This is the most significant upgrade to the nation’s weather radar network since Doppler radar was first installed in the early 1990s,” said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Dual polarization technology provides significantly more information and clearer pictures of current weather conditions, helping National Weather Service meteorologists provide more accurate and timely forecasts.”


Current National Weather Service radars provide forecasters information on precipitation intensity and movement (direction and speed). Dual polarization technology adds new information about the size and shape of an object, which will improve estimates of how much rain is falling, improving flash flood detection and warnings. During winter weather, dual polarization radar can tell the difference between rain, snow and ice, which gives forecasters a much better idea of what to expect at the ground.

Current NWS Doppler Radars (non-polarized)

Transmits and receives only horizontally polarized radio wave pulses. Therefore, they measure only the horizontal dimension of cloud and precipitation particles.

Polarimetric Radar (Dual-Pol)

Transmit and receive both horizontally and vertically polarized radio wave pulses. Therefore, they measure the horizontal and vertical dimension of cloud and precipitation particles.

By comparing the power returned to the radar from both horizontal and vertical pulses in different ways, we can obtain information on the size, shape and ice density of cloud and precipitation particles.

Benefits of Dual-Pol include:

  • Better estimation of precipitation amounts (crucial in heavy rain/flooding events)
  • Improved detection and mitigation of non-weather echoes (ground clutter, chaff, anomalous propagation)
  • Melting layer identification (a.k.a. the "bright-band") - important to aviation
  • Classification of precipitation type (rain, snow, sleet, hail)
  • New severe thunderstorm signatures (improved hail detection, updraft location)

For more information on dual-polarization radar see the following links:

Training for Meteorologists - to support trained meteorologists.

Training for Non-Meteorologists - for non-meteorologists who rely on WSR-88D data to make weather related decisions.

Information from the National Severe Storms Laboratory


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