WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Fayetteville Doppler!

Posted July 21, 2008

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity here in the HD WeatherCenter.  As you may have already seen, we've built and installed a second live radar system to complement our DualDoppler5000 system, and a lot of the "heavy lifting" -- figuratively and literally -- has taken place in just the last month or so.

Our Live Fayetteville Doppler is located in a somewhat unusual place on at least two fronts.  For one, it's sitting on top of a water tower.  Believe it or not, we're not the first people to put a radar on top of a water tower!  A station in Chicago has their radar set atop a water tower on the outskirts of the Windy City, for example.  Plus, it keeps with the "green" times in which we live today to get a second use out of an existing structure rather than to build another one.

Second, it's located in Southern Pines.

Now, you may be thinking, "hey, if it's in Southern Pines, why are you calling it 'Fayetteville Doppler'?"  The answer is because the Southern Pines spot gives us an ideal vantage point to do two things: Track storms across Fayetteville and throughout the Sandhills like never before and see storms moving from the south or west sooner than anyone else. 

The new Fayetteville Doppler is located a little northwest of Fayetteville (and generally near the western side of our entire viewing area), giving us the earliest live radar look at storms moving in from the west or south.  The elevation of the Southern Pines site -- a couple hundred feet above Fayetteville -- gives us a great vantage point to watch what's happening there.  Much like standing on top of a hill can give you a great view of everything around you, the extra elevation lets us see into Fayetteville (and beyond) quite nicely.

Plus, putting a radar right in Fayetteville might result in our not being able to "see" Fayetteville at all.  That sounds odd, but it deals with something radar meteorologists call the "cone of silence".  That's an area directly above the radar where the radar can't "see."  Essentially, the radar can't tilt its head directly upward like we can, so the area directly above it is one big "blind spot."  This results in a small area around the radar site where it can't see.  Putting the radar in Fayetteville means putting this "cone of silence" in Fayetteville, and that's not what we were after.  (And before those of you in Southern Pines get concerned, don't worry too much!  The radar is located such that you're still well covered by both Fayetteville Doppler and DualDoppler5000.)

The end result of all of this is that we've got a great location for a radar to cover Fayetteville, the Sandhills, and really all of our southern counties like never before while also giving everyone an earlier look at storms moving in from the south or west.


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