Better weather radar coverage is coming to Wisconsin

From tornadoes to high winds, hail to blizzards, weather radars allow us to see clouds and know where a storm is occurring. But across Wisconsin, not all communities have the same access to these important tools.

Radar coverage across southeastern Wisconsin is fantastic. Our area is well covered by National Weather Service (NWS) radar in Sullivan. Other radars serving the state include Green Bay, La Crosse and one in Duluth, Minnesota, which covers part of northwestern Wisconsin. But places in between, such as southwestern Wisconsin, parts of central Wisconsin, and most of northern Wisconsin, are not well served by the current radar network.

Jeff Wheeler, chief meteorologist for Newswatch 12 in Rhinelander, knows this all too well.

“To viewers, it looks as if the storms are collapsing on the radar, when in reality they are not. In fact, they could be increasing, but the radar can’t see them,” Wheeler explained.

In the summer, severe storms become difficult to track, and in the winter, snow events sometimes go undetected by radar.

Wheeler recalls a recent incident where the radar was not providing clear, low-level coverage.

“We had to rely on ground truth reports, law enforcement agencies, weather observers, and camera networks. In 2022, this will be kind of prehistoric.”

But this will change soon.

“We’ll know there’s a tornado on the ground sooner than we’ve ever had before,” explained Tad Maguire, vice president of global sales for Climavision.

Climavision is a private company that installs hundreds of radars across the country.

“Here in Wisconsin, we’re going to be installing four radars. In addition to those already in place from the nuclear-weapon states, we’re going to provide much better coverage of the western part of the state, west of Madison, and then upwards,” Maguire said. “Across the northwest, La Crosse and Eau Claire,” Maguire said. And even the Minnesota line.”

The current NWS network consists of approximately 160 radars nationwide. Climavision radars will fill in the gaps between existing sites.

“For us, this is a game-changer,” Wheeler said.

Work is expected to begin in Wisconsin in early 2024.

“At the end of the day, we will produce a much better forecast for everyone,” Maguire said.

Radars are only part of the Climavision plan. Once all the radars are installed, which will take approximately four years, Climavision will use that data to create a high-resolution weather model. They hope this will help provide better weather forecasts, allowing for a more accurate look into the future.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip

(Tags for translation)climavision

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *