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Wind farms may force a new weather radar to be used in the future

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. – On a relatively calm day, weather radars may show non-meteorological items like bugs, birds and wind turbines.

However, as wind farms continue to pop up around the Heartland, this could cause meteorologists to have some headaches about what the strength of storms are.

This is due to the current weather radar having to be mechanically rotated and tilted to sample different parts of the atmosphere.

However, there is a new kind of weather radar called Multi-Function Phased Array Radar or MPAR, that is being researched that could help solve this issue.

Storm Team 3 Meteorologist Matt Gunn asked Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities Rich Kinney about how this research is progressing.

“That research is always ongoing,” Kinney said. “It’s hard to pin down a specific timeframe on when that technology may be available, but really that process of advancing and researching better forms of radar would be taking place whether or not there were wind farm impacts.”

When MPAR becomes functional it could lead to a lot improvements to weather forecasting.

MPAR hopefully will increase the accuracy of weather radars due to scans not being influenced by wind turbines.

Most importantly, MPAR, through its ability to rapidly scan the atmosphere, could increase the accuracy and lead times for severe weather warnings.