Special Report: Inside the ULM Radar

Courtesy: KNOE
By  | 

MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Doppler radar is one of the best known tools of a meteorologist. Doppler radar helps to keep us aware of what’s headed our way and in turn keep us safe.

ULM was awarded a $3 million grant through the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOSHEP) to acquire a Doppler weather radar. The new radar was assembled and erected during 2015.

The ULM radar is now a 34 foot wide, 100 foot high contraption of fiberglass, steel, and lots of engineering. It is situated just outside of Monroe on Highway 80, south of Swartz.

Radar is an acronym and it stands for “RAdio Detection And Ranging.”

Originally, radar was used primarily in the military until it was found that radar could detect precipitation - so shortly after World War 2, radar found uses in weather prediction.

Radar works by spinning around continuously gathering data. That radar data is deciphered, processed and transferred to your screen in the form of radar data - like what you see in your nightly weather forecast.

You might be surprised to find out that a key part used in radar is found in another everyday product you can find in the everyday household – a microwave.

That key part is called a “magnetron”.

The magnetron to the radar is located at the ground level, and it sends pulses of energy out at regular intervals.

This radar is equipped with dual polarization - which allows the radar to transmit pulses both horizontally and vertically. This feature will allow ULM to make use of special products - used to confirm tornadoes occurring close to the radar, as well as precipitation and hail classification.

This gives the radar many applications beyond operational forecasting, including research opportunities.

Overall, when the Doppler goes online, it will make Monroe a prominent hub for information concerning ArkLaMiss weather, and it will help keep more than two hundred thousand people safe.

So, when does the the “ON” switch get flipped on the radar? The university is waiting on final FCC clearance to operate the new radar.