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Meteorological facility dedication scheduled

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 15 - December 8, 1994

(Editor's note: There will be a dedication of the National Weather Service Facility on Forecast Drive, Corporate Research Center on December 15 at 11 a.m. The following information on the facility was provided by Nigel Hatton, University Relations intern.)

The newly constructed Blacksburg National Weather Service Office located in the Corporate Research Center plans to begin receiving nationwide meteorological data in early December, said Rich Kane, science and operations officer.

The station will begin operation as soon as it receives its new communication computers, and its state-of-the-art radar finishes undergoing tests by the manufacturer, Kane said.

The Doppler weather radar is located 25 miles away in Floyd Co. "We'll be accepting the radar, as far as the government's concerned, in early December," he said. The radar will submit information to computers at the Blacksburg office, Kane said.

The Blacksburg office will cover 40 counties. "It will cover a large portion of southwestern Virginia, parts of southeastern West Virginia, and also much of northwestern North Carolina," Kane said.

On February 1, the office assumes responsibility for all hydrological and meteorological functions in its coverage area, Kane said. "Warnings will be coming from here." Kane said National Weather Service offices in Roanoke and Lynchburg will wind down as the Blacksburg office gears up. "They'll be in operation for a while, eventually spinning all the way down," he said. "In the future it's actually planned for them to close."

Kane said the Doppler weather radar is much more effective than conventional radar."It can actually give an estimate of rainfall," he said. "It tells how much precipitation has fallen. It gives aerial coverage of precipitation."

Increased sensitivity allows the radar to detect clouds, birds, and even bugs, Kane said."It's unique because it's a Doppler radar. It can look into thunderstorms and get a sense of wind direction. It gives an idea of potential for tornado capability." He said the new radar will also increase the lead time for warnings and provide more accurate short-term forecasts.