The WAAY 31 StormTracker Early Warning Radar Network: 10 times the resolution of other radars

The National Weather Service has radar located in Columbus, Mississippi and Hytop, Alabama. This allows for an overview, but leaves significant gaps in coverage. The WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network – 3 Doppler radars placed in Muscle Shoals, Decatur, and Guntersville – fills in these gaps.

Posted: Jun 10, 2020 3:28 PM
Updated: Sep 23, 2020 9:55 PM

“The mission of the National Weather Service is to cover a very large area,” said Michael Knight, VP/Development and Innovation at EEC.

The National Weather Service has radar located in Columbus, Mississippi and Hytop, Alabama. This allows for an overview, but leaves significant gaps in coverage. The WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network – 3 Doppler radars placed in Muscle Shoals, Decatur, and Guntersville – fills in these gaps.

ADDITIONAL COVERAGE

The three Doppler radars that make up the WAAY 31 StormTracker Early Warning Radar Network is the only radar system that can cover every square inch of North Alabama and provide earlier warnings with precise, real-time accuracy that can see storms other radars miss. Other radar systems, including the National Weather Service, have significant gaps in their radar coverage areas to see storms closer to the ground. With Doppler radars located in Muscle Shoals, the Decatur-Huntsville area, and Guntersville, the WAAY 31 Storm Tracker Early Warning Radar Network is the largest privately-held weather radar system in the United States.

“With this, you can cover an area with much greater detail,” Knight said. “It will be a much more detailed picture for your audience and faster. Much faster.”

Knight knows his stuff. His company, EEC, has more than a thousand weather radars deployed throughout the world. They got their start in 1974 when it built the first radar units for the National Weather Service. They currently have radars set up in more than 90 countries worldwide. The same company that built 18 radars for the weather service in Germany built the WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network – the largest privately held radar network in the U.S.

WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network: More Detail

That’s a significant advance in weather coverage. The farther you get from any radar site, the less detail you will get from the radar data. For example, a storm in the northwest corner of the state being tracked by a radar in Hytop, Huntsville, or Athens can miss key details or warning signs.

Here’s an example of how the NWS radar missed the detail inside this recent storm, but the WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network was able to pick up real-time storm data. On the left, you can see how the WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network was able to track the exact placement of the thunderstorm. On the right, the NWS radar was unable to show its exact location.

Other Radars Can Overshoot Storms

Other radars can also over-shoot the storms. The farther you are from any radar site, the beam’s ability to see what’s happening is impacted by the curvature of the earth. As the radar signal goes out, it’s in a fairly straight line. While it might be close to the ground at the origin, it might be at 5,000 feet at a distance. It may pick up what’s happening in the atmosphere, but not close the ground where we live and tornadoes form.

WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network: Faster Warnings

“From the genesis of a tornado to causing damage, it can only be a few minutes,” Knight said. “For a typical volume scan with the National Weather Service, it might take five minutes before it produces a picture.” With the WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network, he said, you get the picture essentially instantly.

That 5 minute faster warning could mean the difference between life and death. In north Alabama, we’ve seen instances where a tornado pops up, does significant damage, and is gone in less than 5 minutes. The WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network takes seconds to display images.

The images the WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network gets will be even higher resolution and more detailed than anything you can get anywhere. “The weather service has what they call High Resolution,” Knight said. “That’s about 250 meter spatial resolution.” With the WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network, you get about 16 meter resolution. “It’s more than 10 times the resolution,” he said. “It’s a much clearer picture.”

According to Knight, that means a tornado on the ground might not even show up on other radars. With the WAAY 31 Early Warning Radar Network gets, Knight said the higher resolution might allow you to see a tornado forming even within a small cell.

Huntsville/Madison
Mostly Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 56°
Muscle Shoals
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 59°
Huntsville/Madison
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 54°
Decatur
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 54°
Fort Payne
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 51°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 443009

Reported Deaths: 6662
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson649101007
Mobile31746574
Madison28413217
Tuscaloosa21566275
Montgomery20088332
Shelby19452132
Baldwin17333189
Lee13261107
Morgan12678142
Etowah12141181
Calhoun11555206
Marshall10487123
Houston9031164
Limestone838181
Cullman8296124
Elmore8243110
Lauderdale7946107
DeKalb7900107
St. Clair7876130
Talladega6523112
Walker6050183
Jackson603245
Colbert558194
Blount548586
Autauga540762
Coffee466964
Dale412785
Franklin377550
Russell358415
Chilton346873
Covington340880
Escambia339244
Tallapoosa3163109
Dallas313696
Chambers305470
Clarke303336
Pike265231
Lawrence255855
Marion254661
Winston234742
Bibb222948
Geneva213047
Marengo210531
Pickens200431
Hale186144
Barbour183438
Fayette178829
Butler174860
Cherokee166031
Henry160025
Monroe152621
Randolph146636
Washington142727
Clay130746
Crenshaw124845
Macon122837
Cleburne122125
Lamar120622
Lowndes116836
Wilcox108322
Bullock104628
Perry100518
Conecuh98022
Sumter90627
Greene77923
Coosa64018
Choctaw52124
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 710427

Reported Deaths: 8970
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby790251186
Davidson73248697
Knox40335452
Hamilton35983347
Rutherford34271298
Unassigned23946140
Williamson22259150
Sumner18862237
Out of TN1644883
Montgomery15200153
Wilson14878167
Sullivan13002221
Blount12382136
Washington12206206
Maury11337131
Bradley11263101
Sevier10877123
Putnam10200152
Madison9364186
Robertson793088
Hamblen7261119
Anderson7031116
Greene6779117
Tipton639571
Coffee578584
Gibson5767117
Dickson559082
Cumberland556777
Bedford546092
Roane536083
McMinn524674
Lawrence524369
Carter5215121
Warren511656
Loudon510352
Jefferson497078
Dyer487487
Monroe471964
Hawkins461473
Franklin426067
Fayette415953
Obion406683
Rhea391858
Lincoln388347
Cocke359063
Marshall358140
Cheatham350332
Weakley345948
Campbell338742
Henderson338659
Giles334476
Carroll318362
White317749
Hardeman315854
Hardin306650
Lauderdale299934
Macon294751
Wayne270325
Henry269960
Overton260546
McNairy249042
DeKalb247443
Haywood245650
Marion236233
Smith235430
Trousdale230617
Scott230432
Claiborne230033
Hickman229836
Fentress217835
Grainger217240
Johnson205335
Morgan196616
Crockett183738
Chester179039
Bledsoe178211
Unicoi170147
Cannon161721
Lake158522
Polk150517
Decatur149027
Union145725
Grundy143622
Sequatchie142120
Humphreys137717
Benton134135
Lewis131121
Meigs119216
Stewart112220
Jackson106624
Clay96526
Perry96325
Houston95226
Moore8319
Pickett69220
Van Buren6758
Hancock4227

Community Events