OU, National Weather Center receive technology upgrades

OU, National Weather Center receive technology upgrades

NORMAN, OK (KSWO) - A new partnership between the University of Oklahoma, the Weather Channel and AT&T is making it possible to take top of the line radar equipment and cameras to the front lines of storms.

The partnership was announced Friday at the National Weather Center in Norman. The weather channel will now put new equipment on vehicles from the National Weather Center that will travel within miles of storms.  They will then be able to broadcast up-to-date scientific information and video onto live television.

University of Oklahoma Meteorology Ph.D. student Addison Alford said the new equipment will allow them to get their radar vehicles much closer to the storms, allowing them to bring back more accurate information.

"The purpose of these kinds of instruments, the purpose of mobile radars is to take the radar to the storm," Alford said. "If you have a stationary radar, the storm may be 50, 60 miles away. But we can get less than 10 miles away with these trucks. So if we're right next to it, what better way to show viewers what we're doing than to stream live video."

Director of the National Weather Center Berrien Moore said in the past,  you could get trucks that close to storms, but if you wanted the data from those trucks you'd have to wait until the trucks returned to download it.

"We now have the capability of streaming the data back while the trucks are deployed so that we are bringing the scientific information back immediately in real time," Moore said. "Not only are we bringing back the scientific information, we're bringing back the video, what we are seeing in the field."

That video can be streamed live on The Weather Channel, which Meteorologist Mike Bettes said is truly cutting edge.

"10 years ago, it was rare that you saw a live tornado on television and now it's rare if you don't see one," Bettes said. "But having the ability to be there as the storm happens to watch the meteorologist deploy their radar, to see it live, the storm on a video camera on a video feed. It just gives you that inside feel that you can't duplicate."

Alford said they hope the technology continues to improve so they can make even more accurate predictions to keep the public safe.

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