A £10million, state–of-the-art upgrade of the UK’s rainfall radar network has been completed.
This includes the High Moorsley site, which covers areas up to 150 miles away, such as Northumberland.
For the first time, the size and shape of raindrops and snowflakes can now be captured, together with wind speed data.
These new scientific advancements will ultimately lead to improvements in the accuracy of rainfall estimates, particularly during high-impact weather events such as flooding.
The upgrade was jointly funded by the Met Office and the Environment Agency.
The Head of the Met Office public weather service, Derrick Ryall said: “Weather radar provides the only means of measuring the spatial extent and distribution of rainfall over a wide geographical area.
“The most intense rainfall events are often highly localised and can therefore be missed or under-sampled by rain gauge networks, and while their occurrence can be forecast with skill, it is often not currently possible to forecast their exact location.
“Radar therefore provides a crucial input to short-range weather forecasts (nowcasts) of precipitation rate and improves the skill of weather forecasts when it is assimilated into numerical weather prediction models.”
Carol Holt, deputy director for the Environment Agency, said; “This joint project with the Met Office is just one of the many exciting ways the Environment Agency is making the most of new technology to prepare for and respond to floods.
“The quality and reliability of the data we are getting from the new radars is significantly improved and will help us to provide more accurate flood forecasts and issue flood warnings earlier. This means people have more time to prepare when flooding is expected – so please check whether your home is at risk and sign up to receive our free warnings.”