TONIGHT: Mostly cloudy with lingering snow into the late evening. Up to an inch will be possible. Low: 23. Winds: North 5-10 mph.
THANKSGIVING DAY: Mostly sunny and colder. High: 27. Winds: Northwest 10-15 mph.
New Doppler Radar On-Line at NWS
The National Weather Service in Lincoln has new technology that will enable it to get warnings and severe weather information out to you faster. The new Dual Polarization Doppler Radar is up and running and the timing couldn't be better.
"Last week our radar went through a big upgrade to change to what we call Dual Pole Doppler Radar, and what that does is gives us the ability to see the sizes and shapes of the objects that the radar is sampling in the atmosphere," NWS Lincoln Warning Coordination Meteorologist Chris Miller said.
The new radar will make it easier for meteorologists to see the different kinds of precipitation, like snow and sleet.
"That's going to be a really big help in the winter when we have mixed precipitation," Miller said. "We get a lot of that here in Central Illinois, we get the sleet and the freezing rain and snow and it switches back and forth during the storm."
It will also give more accurate rainfall estimates.
"When we get heavy rainfall and there is developing flash flood situations, then we're going to be able to have a handle on the amount of precipitation that has fallen, especially when there is hail mixed in," Miller said.
The new Dual Pol Doppler Radar will make it easier to determine the size of hail within storm cells, leading to more information and more accurate warnings. It will also help meteorologists see debris within systems that have tornadoes, confirming it is on the ground.
"With respect to tornadoes, we're not going to be able to see things quicker for getting tornado warnings out, but what we will be able to do is give more information when a warning is already out or when a tornado has already formed, especially if it's on the ground for a few minutes," Miller said.
And it looks like the National Weather Service meteorologists will soon get a chance to use their new tools.
"We're expecting a pretty strong storm system to come in here late Saturday, and as a result this is really the first big group of thunderstorms that we're going to get a look at with the upgraded radar," Miller said.
The new radar products are not currently available for use by the public on the National Weather Service website. However, some outside vendors are making the data accessible for a fee. Meteorologists warn that this new data may be difficult for the average person to interpret, so keep that in mind before you buy anything.