New weather radar at UMass is helping the National Weather Service

Hampden County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A new weather radar at the University of Massachusetts is helping the National Weather Service.

UMass is actually using this radar to study the difference between new radar technology and the conventional radar that’s currently being used by the National Weather Service. But, there’s an unexpected benefit.

Radar beams slant upward as they are sent out from their initial location. That means the farther you are from one, the higher in the atmosphere it is scanning.

So the Pioneer Valley is pretty far from the two closest radars, and that can lead to a gap in data, missing important weather features.

Professor Stephen Frasier told 22News about the location of the radar.

“This location here in Amherst is about midway between the Boston and Albany radars. So the radar beams are about a mile above our head. And so it’s nice to have a system that can observe down lower,” said Frasier.

The new radar, called a phased-array radar, provides quicker scans of the surrounding area, which is crucial during severe weather, and it also improves observations.

That radar is especially important during days like Wednesday, when western Massachusetts experienced strong to severe thunderstorms.

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