A radar system that could provide as much as 10 minutes advance warning ahead of a tornado will finally be unveiled Tuesday, months after an NBC 5 investigation revealed it was sitting in storage at DFW International Airport.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments has partnered with the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) Engineering Research Center to put the system to use in the region.
NBC 5 Investigates first reported on the CASA system in April, following a day where the Metroplex witnessed 17 tornadoes - at least two of which were on the ground before sirens went off.
But while those twisters tore up several local communities, the CASA system was sitting in a warehouse because FEMA had rejected a $150,000 grant application from the developers to install it.
"One of the problems is that a radar beam goes out in a straight line but the Earth is curved so the farther you get from the radar the higher you're looking up into a storm. So once you get more than 15, 20 miles away, you're not seeing what is happening right at ground level," said David Finfrock, NBC 5 Chief Meteorologist. "If you remember back in April, the tornado with those trailers flying through the air in Lancaster, we had a tremendous view of that from our radar, which is located in northeaster Ellis County. We were very close by. We could not see the tornadoes in Forney or in Arlington as well because they were farther away. That is where the real benefit comes from having this dense network at ground level all across North Texas."
Local officials are excited about the technology that will give them clearer, more precise weather information. "Because these are going to be fast-scanning, high-resolution radars, they're going to give us a better view of what's happening in the lower atmosphere," said Juan Ortiz, Emergency Management Coordinator for the city of Fort Worth.
Officials are planning to install the radars on the campuses of the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of North Texas. Funding for those installation is still being sorted out.
In addition, there will be a radar facility in the city of Addison as well as five more throughout DFW, but exact locations are still being determined.
A news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the North Central Texas Council of Governments building in Arlington to discuss further developments.
NBC 5's Mola Lenghi contributed to this report.