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Gap-Filling Weather Radar Installed

Gap-filling weather radar installed on Millersville University’s water tower.

Millersville University announced that its partner, Climavision, a climate-tech data pioneer, has installed a new weather radar system on campus. The radar, placed on the Millersville University water tank, will supplement weather coverage in between neighboring NEXRAD S-Band radars.

Because of regional topography and the nature of weather radar technology, gaps can exist between systems as the radar beam moves higher in the atmosphere the further it gets from the radar location. This leaves some areas, such as Lancaster County, exposed to weather phenomena that often happen in the lower atmosphere, such as flash flooding, sleet, ice, and tornadoes.

The radome, which weighs 5,000 pounds, was lifted by a crane.

The dual-polarization, X-Band weather radar is designed specifically to fill these small gaps to provide the highest resolution view of what’s happening nearest to the ground. While all warnings and notices will continue to come through official National Weather Service channels, the system will provide critical visibility enabling forecasters and emergency officials to better plan, prepare, and respond to volatile weather situations.

Millersville’s meteorology program has long been considered a nationally recognized flagship program of the University. From its nationally known faculty to outstanding alums, students in the program are immersed in the atmospheric and climate sciences. Now those students will have access to data from an X-band weather surveillance radar, thanks to the partnership with Climavision.

“We’re excited about the opportunities the Climavision radar will bring to our faculty and students,” says Dr. Marc Harris, dean of the College of Science and Technology. “Faculty will be able to leverage the data for teaching, research and scholarship activities. Faculty and students will be able to use it for projects, grants, manuscript publications and conference publications.”

Professor emeritus Dr. Richard Clark was the impetus behind the partnership. In 2019, Millersville was part of a $90 million proposal to the National Science Foundation for major research infrastructure that would have included buying and deploying a weather radar. The grant proposal was ultimately not funded for nonscientific reasons. Clark then learned about the possible Climavision partnership during a summer meteorology conference held in July 2022, reached out to them and made the introductions to Dean Harris and the facilities department.

The new radar will cover the area in between the four closest NEXRADs, which are located near State College, Pennsylvania; Ft. Dix, New Jersey; Ellendale, Delaware; and Dulles International Airport, Virginia. MU alum Dr. Jim Kurdzo, a radar scientist at MIT’s Lincoln Labs, helped design the algorithm that determined that the Lower Susquehanna Valley is one of the top three locations in the contiguous U.S. to experience a gap in low-level coverage.

“We’re excited about our collaboration with MU for lots of reasons,” said Climavision cofounder and CEO Chris Goode. “We’re not only closing a critical gap in weather surveillance, we get to support the future of weather science by providing students with an invaluable learning tool.”

The partnership allows Climavision to lease the site for 20 years. The installation took place on June 27, and by the time classes start in the fall, it will be fully operational for research, teaching and weather-detection services.

 

 

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