MONROE, La. -
One area univeristy is going great lengths to improve weather forecasting here in the Arklamiss.
KTVE/KARD Meteorologist Brandon Lawrence has prepared this special report.
We're no stranger to severe weather here in the Arklamiss.
From thunderstorms to tornadoes, we've become accustomed to living in a severe weather prone region.
But did you know that forecasting and tracking storms over the Twin Cities can be a big challenge?
The National Weather Service in Shreveport is responsible for all weather warnings issued in Ouachita Parish.
Tracking such a wide variety of storms is no small task.
"Our job mainly is to protect the lives and property of the American citizens that we serve here in the four state area from severe weather. We issue warnings for severe storms.", says Bill Parker, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for NWS Shreveport.
But why is it so difficult?
Ouachita Parish is located nearly halfway between two doppler radar sites. One is in Shreveport, and the other is in Jackson, Mississippi.
A doppler radar site shoots out a beam every few seconds...and as it gets farther away from the actual radar site, it also climbs higher into the atmosphere.
The problem is...we need to see what's in the lower half of the atmosphere.
"As those storms get further out, again, we're hitting it in the mid-levels, and we don't have any data right now in the lower levels.", says Parker.
Experts in atmospheric science agree having a good view of the lowest levels of the atmosphere is the key to keeping people safe during times of active weather.
"If you're seeing something far up away from the surface, that doesn't neccesarily always translate to what's happening at the surface....so you want to see those lower levels because that's where we live, and that's what impacts us.", explains Dr. Todd Murphy, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at ULM.
So to bridge the gap, ULM is adding to that. They're making major strides in the their atmospheric sciences program by constructing their own doppler radar right here in Monroe.
"It was sort of this natural idea that, hey, it would be really great to have a radar...especially since we have that atmospheric science program.", says Dr. Anne Case Hanks, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at ULM
The University was awarded a $3-million grant in 2012 from the Louisiana Governor's Office for Homeland Secuirty and Emergency Preparedness.
At the beginning of this year, Alabama-based Enterprise Electronics Corporation won the bid to manufacture and construct the radar site.
Dr. Todd Murphy explains how this technology would have been beneficial during the October 2014 tornado that ripped through Monroe.
"You couldn't see any low level circulation from that tornado...it becomes a warning issue. Having the radar here is really going to improve warning operation for the Weather Service, as well as local resarch.", says Dr. Todd Murphy
Meteorologists at the NWS will be able to view the radar data.
They say this will greatly improve severe weather forecasting in the future.
"The more tools that we have, the better we can sample the atmosphere...and the better is that we can serve our people.", says Parker.
And that's just it. Keeping more people safe and informed during times of active weather is any meteorologist's first and foremost responsibility.