NOAA NSSL’s new mobile radar will be tested by Hurricane Ike

NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory’s researchers will test a new mobile radar as Hurricane Ike makes landfall early Saturday morning. The dual-polarized X-band mobile radar built by NSSL and University of Oklahoma researchers is called the NO-XP and is moving into position northeast of Victoria, Texas.

Scientists from NSSL and OU hope to collect dual-polarized Doppler radar data for the first time on a landfalling hurricane eyewall. Radars with dual-polarization capabilities — radio waves that are sent out both horizontally and vertically — can more accurately determine precipitation types and amounts.

Research data provided by the NO-XP will help improve the quality and accuracy of forecasts and warnings of hazardous weather.

NSSL’s field command vehicle and a mobile mesonet are also in Texas providing support.

Researchers will choose a site rated safe from a Category 4-5 hurricane storm surge. They are also coordinating with other scientists using mobile radars in the area, including the Center for Severe Weather Research’s Doppler on Wheels and the University of Alabama – Huntsville mobile radar positioned on the east side of Houston.

The NO-XP is a new mobile radar built to study precipitation processes as well as severe weather and became operational in April 2008. Researchers hope to shake out any remaining technical or operational issues typically found in new observing systems.

The NO-XP’s predecessors, two SMART-Rs, or Shared Mobile Atmospheric Research and Teaching Radars, have collected data on similar storms. In September 2001, the mobile C-band radar jointly owned by NSSL, OU, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, intercepted a land-falling tropical cyclone, T.S. Gabrielle, in Florida. The SMART-Rs also captured data from Hurricane Lili in 2003 and Hurricane Isabel in 2005.

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