NBC4's StormRanger is a mobile Doppler radar that operates in what meteorologists call the X-band, which allows us to see rain and smoke in greater detail than any other radar in the region. The first test of the system was the Blue Cut Fire.
The Blue Cut Fire was not one large column of fire and smoke, but actually made up of several fires. It was difficult to see this with the naked eye because there was so much smoke in the area.
With radar, you could see through the outer layer of smoke and find each of the smaller fires. Radar also can measure the winds directly above and around the fire. StormRanger sends back information every minute, beating out the National Weather Service radars that take at least 5 minutes to send back data. This gives us the ability to monitor the fire and spread in real time.
When rain moves into Southern California, StormRanger will help us to pinpoint storm locations with minute-by-minute updates.
Not every storm is uniform and sometimes a few miles can be the difference between light rain and very heavy rainfall. Our radar will be able to pick out the trouble spots and can tell the difference between light rain, heavy rain, snow, and hail.
Radar is "line of sight," meaning it can be blocked by mountains, creating many blind spots throughout SoCal. In addition, National Weather Service radars cannot look down from their mountain-top locations, so radar may not match what we are seeing at the surface. StormRanger solves this problem by being mobile — we can drive it to a blind spot and see what other radars can't.
Watch for StormRanger on the roads around Southern California. If you spot it, snap a picture and share with us on social media using the #StormRanger hashtag!