Skip to Content

MU to bring new Doppler radar to Mid-Missouri

The intensity of thunderstorms over Mid-Missouri can sometimes be underestimated due to a lack of radar coverage in the central part of the state.

If you’ve ever been through a severe thunderstorm in Mid-Missouri and watched the ABC 17 Stormtrack weather team when severe weather arrives, you know Doppler radar is a key tool in showing you when the storms will be on your doorstep.

Meteorologists in Mid-Missouri use real-time Doppler radar data from three National Weather Service offices across the state, including St. Louis, Springfield, and Kansas City.

Radar beams shoot at varying angles to provide slices through the atmosphere to see different layers of a thunderstorm.

The problem is, the farther away your town is from the radar site, the harder it is for radar beams to slice through the lower and mid-levels of a storm, often where rotation, large hail, damaging winds, and even tornadoes are detected.

Several Mid-Missouri towns are at least 100 miles away from a radar site, creating a lack of good coverage issue.

Last summer, a confirmed tornado went undetected in gasconade county near Owensville, solidifying the need for better radar coverage.

A grant awarded to the University of Missouri could help solve that problem, by giving the school a new dual-polarization Doppler radar.

It’s part of a large, $20 million dollar project funded through the National Science Foundation.

The radar is a small part of the grant that the school intends to use to study rainfall over Mid-Missouri, and how the changing climate affects plants.

However, atmospheric science professor Dr. Neil Fox said having the radar in Columbia will be a real benefit to the community, by handing over real-time radar data to the National Weather Service.

“One area we want to look at is how much benefit areas like this that are kind of in between radars can benefit by having these small, but high-quality radars. We can look closer to the surface. With severe weather we might be able to pick up on tornadoes that the weather service can’t,” said Fox.

Fox said the goal is to have the radar up and running by late spring, and it will be located on the University’s South Farm just south of Columbia.

The radar’s range will be slightly shorter than a National Weather Service radar, up to 100 miles, with the best data between 50-70 miles from the radar site.

“Hopefully it will not only be a great research tool, but a great public safety tool.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

ABC 17 News Team


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content