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Weather Radar: The Latest Advances in Weather Instrumentation

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What Is OU-PRIME?:

OU-PRIME stands for Polarimetric Radar for Innovations in Meteorology and Engineering. The OU-PRIME is the latest advance in meteorological instrumentation and weather radar.

The radar system was completed in early 2009. It is the highest-resolution, dual-polarization, C-band weather radar in the United States. C-band radar systems are a staple of local television stations because of their small dish size and short-range data. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also uses C-band radar systems. The National Weather Service will be upgrading to dual-polarization radar as soon as 2010.

Where Is OU-PRIME?:

OU-PRIME was officially commissioned at the University of Oklahoma on April 4, 2009. The radar is part of the Atmospheric Radar Research Center (ARRC) at the University. The ARRC is an interdisciplinary center between OU’s schools of Meteorology and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

OU-PRIME is located just east of the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma. It is another step in making Norman, Oklahoma the weather radar capitol of the world. One of the main purposes of the radar system is for research in both engineering and in meteorology.

Does OU-PRIME Work?:

One of the first storms captured by the new radar system were a series of tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas on February 10, 2009. Part of the success of the program is the clarity with which OU-PRIME produces radar imagery.

The benefit of dual-polarization weather radar over traditional pulse radar is the addition of a vertical pulse of electromagnetic radiation.Instead of just a horizontal beam, two different electromagnetic beams are released. That means the OU-PRIME can actually determine the difference between precipitation types. Knowing the size and shape of rain, snow, and hail improves forecasting accuracy.

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