The NWS offline radar will move to Hammond for better coverage

The NWS offline radar will move to Hammond for better coverage

BATON ROUGE, LA (BRPRUD) – Doppler radar plays an important role for meteorologists when rain and storms occur to help monitor and forecast active weather.

The greater Baton Rouge area is primarily served by KLIX Radar located in Slidell. Radar has now been decommissioned in preparation for moving to its new home in Hammond.

Radars scan the atmosphere in layers with each layer tilted upward. As the radar beam extends outward, it increases with height. Over the Baton Rouge area, the lowest radar beam is about 5,500 to 7,500 feet above the ground, an altitude that can cause low-level information to be missed.

When you move the radar, a new lower inclination will be added. This will bring that beam down to about 1,800 to 2,800 feet. This is vital for meteorologists so they can pick up features in storms such as rotating updrafts or hail cores. It will be possible to see a more complete picture which in turn can help produce more accurate warnings and increase lead times.

Kevin Gilmore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Slidell, describes the move as leading to a 4- to 6,000-foot improvement in the survey. Having that low inclination will be great for us to further understand the full structure of storms and then provide those life-saving warnings.

The radar will be down during the winter months as this is usually a less active season compared to the summer. However, strong cold fronts are still possible, with severe weather possible.

Surrounding radar sites at Lake Charles, Fort Johnson, Jackson, Mobile, and even the limited-range radar at the New Orleans Airport will help provide coverage during the downtime months. Even without radar in Slidell, National Weather Service meteorologists are highly trained to analyze the environment and issue warnings from other sources.

Gilmore explains that they completed additional training by focusing on “leveraging satellite training[as]a really big thing, which is what we call mesoanalysis, which is understanding the environmental conditions that are favorable for severe weather and that can give you different types of conditions from severe weather.”

This winter will see El Niño conditions – meaning we will likely see above average precipitation, with more storm systems likely. Therefore, it is important to keep up with the forecast and develop a severe weather safety plan.

“Please make sure you have a reliable way to see those warnings. Don't think we have a system coming, but there's no radar, so I probably won't get many warnings. That's not the case,” Gilmore said. “If you do get those warnings, take them on.” seriously”.

The plan is to have the radar back online in Hammond, with the new call sign KHDC, by the end of March 2024.

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