MADISON, Wis. – A private company based in Kentucky is working to upgrade how rain, tornados and everything in between are monitored, and they’re bringing that new technology to parts of Wisconsin.
Climavision started the rollout of what they’re calling high-resolution radar earlier this year and has plans to install the new equipment in parts of the west and northwest regions of the state in 2024.
Weather industry veteran and company CEO Chris Goode said he founded the Climavision in part to go where the National Weather Services’ 160 radars across the country don’t, at lower parts of the atmosphere.
“It’s a great network but it still has what we would refer to as blind spots or gaps,” Goode said. “These blind spots often contain weather that’s very impactful and can impact our daily lives.”
He said those impacts can come in the form of severe weather or milder weather like light snow which can affect things like planes passing through lower levels experiencing icy conditions.
For their part representatives from the National Weather Service admit there are some areas without very good radar coverage but they also said, especially with spotters in place, there is no real cause for concern.
Michael Kurz works as a warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS’ La Crosse office. He said those gaps between their radar don’t pose any statistically significant threat in their ability to issue warnings for protecting life and property.
Kurz also said regardless of the technology there will always be some limitations so their spotters will remain necessary.
“The human eyes are irreplaceable,” he said. “Just for being able to observe what’s going on and give us that ground truth information that technology can’t always offer.”
Still, Goode said Climavision’s dual polarity radar takes things a step further. By sending out energy in both the X and Y axis their technology has the ability to make new observations through radar.
“You can actually discern the type of hydrometer that is falling whether it’s rain, sleet or snow,” he explained. “Or perhaps something that is not naturally found in the atmosphere which would then indicate a tornado that is on the ground so for instance, tree branches or other debris.”
Goode also said their technology has implications beyond emergency management but can also prove to be useful in the transportation industry, agriculture, and new energy market. He said because solar, wind, and hydrology rely on the weather, he considers their data about those resources an investment in the future.
Climavision has so far installed five out of the 200 planned units in the southern part of the country. Access to the data will be available through a subscription.
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