National Weather Service radar sites across the country are being upgraded with dual-polarization technology.
The N.W.S. of Marquette county will receive theirs in May of this year.
Our radar was installed in 1995 and has since been the primary radar site for Upper Michigan and Lake Superior. It receives upgrades regularly, but none of this magnitude.
"This is really the first significant radar upgrade that the weather service has seen since the Doppler radar had been implemented back in the mid 1990s," said N.W.S. Meteorologist Mike Dutter.
As of now, the radar can only view the atmosphere in a horizontal direction.
"We can see that something is going on, but we may not necessarily know what it is," Dutter said.
But after May, it will send out signals both horizontally and vertically, enabling it to receive precipitation data with greater detail.
"It's going to revolutionize the way that we see echoes on the radar," Dutter said. "Dual-pol will actually allow us to differentiate between rain, snow, hail, insects, dust, or smoke."
This "dual-pol" upgrade is great news for meteorologists. But what does it mean for everyone else?
"A lot of the changes will be transparent to the public," Dutter explained. "You'll still be able to see the basic radar picture that you've always been able to see; that will continue."
Because this is new technology, N.W.S. meteorologists are expected to go through training.
"Ultimately a lot of the data at first that will be available will be very difficult for everybody to understand," Dutter stated. "We'll be doing research and trying to understand some of the new data as well."
The radar will be down for up to two weeks in May to allow for the changes. But there's other forms of weather data available.
"We have satellite, we have lightning data, we have surface observations, we have spotters. They always are very important."
During the down time, we can also rely on the surrounding radars in Gaylord, Green Bay, and Duluth for precipitation information.