An improved picture for weather radar

12 Feb 2018 01:49 PM

A multi-million pound state–of-the-art upgrade of the UK’s rainfall radar network has been completed, and for the first time the size and shape of raindrops and snowflakes can now be captured together with wind speed data.

These new scientific advancements will ultimately lead to improvements in the accuracy of rainfall estimates, particularly during high-impact weather events, such as flooding, and they are of a complete upgrade of the Met Office Radar Network. The network is one of the longest established radar networks of its kind in the world and consists of 15 radar sites across the UK.

The £10 million pound upgrade was jointly funded by the Met Office and the Environment Agency. The Head of the Met Office Public Weather Service Derrick Ryall said: “Weather radar provides the only means of measuring the spatial extent and distribution of rainfall over a wide geographical area.

“The most intense rainfall events are often highly localised and can therefore be missed or under-sampled by rain gauge networks, and whilst their occurrence can be forecast with skill, it is often not currently possible to forecast their exact location. Radar therefore provides a crucial input to short-range weather forecasts (nowcasts) of precipitation rate, and improves the skill of weather forecasts when it is assimilated into numerical weather prediction models.”

The Met Office radar network includes 15 radar stations across the UK; the oldest at Hameldon Hill, near Burnley in Lancashire, has been operating since 1974. Our new radar deliver five times more data, with almost a terabyte being received from each radar over the course of a year. We now record 1.8 million rainfall observations per hour per radar and can identify swarms of insects or flocks of birds over 25 miles away.

Click here for full press release