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Recent Press Releases

Aug 16 2012

National Weather Service Receives Radar Upgrade in Portland and Caribou

New Technology Will Improve Local Weather Forecasts and Warnings

       Washington, DC — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today that the National Weather Service’s Forecast Offices in Gray/Portland and Caribou now have an upgraded Doppler radar with a new life-saving technology. Dual-polarization or “dual-pol” radar provides meteorologists with enhanced information about the atmosphere so that they can more accurately track, assess and warn the public of approaching high-impact weather. 


       The upgrade to dual-pol technology is the most significant enhancement made to the nation’s NEXRAD radar network since Doppler radar was first installed in the early 1990s.  The upgrade includes a hardware attachment to the radar dish which now sends and receives both horizontal and vertical pulses, and also new software to processes the information.  The new radar will provide much more information about the size, shape, density, and intensity of the precipitation in the clouds.


      "As Mainers know all too well, severe weather can often be dangerous and damaging,” said Senator Susan Collins. “This new, state-of-the-art technology will better help keep Mainers safe from and prepare for a variety of weather threats.”


       According to Hendricus Lulofs, meteorologist-in-charge, Gray/Portland forecast office, “The new dual-pol technology will allow forecasters to determine the type of precipitation in the sky. In the summer, we’ll be able to use this technology to distinguish heavy rain from hail, which will allow us to issue better warnings for severe weather.  In the winter, it will help us distinguish the types of precipitation falling across the area, which can often be challenging in northern New England.” 


       The Gray-Portland forecast office serves over 1.6 million people in 12 counties in Maine and 8 counties across New Hampshire. The Caribou forecast office serves 330,000 people in six counties in Maine.


       “Flooding has always been our most dangerous and costly weather hazard in the state,” said Rich Okulski, meteorologist-in-charge, Caribou forecast office. “The information we gather from the new radar will allow forecasters to issue more accurate and timely warnings of flooding and flash flooding across the state.”


        Businesses in Maine will also benefit from the enhanced information dual-pol brings. Utility companies that manage water levels on Maine’s rivers and lakes will have more accurate information on which to base their decisions.  Businesses along Maine’s rivers will benefit from improved river level forecasts based on the radar’s rainfall estimates.