UNT Installs CASA Weather System Radar

By Brian Scott
|  Thursday, Apr 11, 2013  |  Updated 9:54 PM CDT
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A new state-of-the-art weather radar is now in place at the University of North Texas after a long wait for funding.

Brian Scott, Denton County Reporter

A new state-of-the-art weather radar is now in place at the University of North Texas after a long wait for funding.

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A new CASA weather system radar is now in place at the University of North Texas after a long wait for funding.

On Thursday afternoon, crews lifted a CASA radar at UNT’s Discovery Park – the second of eight radars to go up across the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

CASA, which stands for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, differs from regular radars in how it gathers data about the weather – the system can scan the skies and predict when bad weather will hit and can be pinpointed to down to specific neighborhoods. 

The network of eight CASA radars would provide meteorologists with finer details of deadly storms once per minute instead of every five minutes like current Doppler radars.  

"It's able to really provide information where people are instead of up higher in the sky,” said Brenda Philips, CASA Deputy Director from the University of Massachusetts. 

It's taken two years to get the radar up and running as local governments worked with the weather service and the federal government (FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security) to secure funding. The radar equipment sat idle in a warehouse at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport even when devastating tornadoes came through in April 2012.

NBC 5 investigates first reported this story in May 2012 when the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) put together the funding to bring CASA to North Texas, but was short $150,000.

After funding setbacks and delays, the second unit is now up.The first unit was installed at the University of Texas-Arlington in Oct. 2012, and the two more are set to go up soon. 

"I think once people start seeing the data from this especially from the weather service's point of view and the University's point of view, I think we're going to see the benefit and show a lot of the benefit and that way it's going to hopefully open up a some of that red tape,” said Mark Fox, National Weather Service meteorologist from Fort Worth.

Fox adds this radar is particularly important as it will be the northern most in North Texas and can detect incoming cells from the north.

Leaders at UNT say they’re glad to host the new technology as an early detection method for the area and as a learning tool for their students.

"It's going to help us make better decisions because of the high resolution data that's going to come from it,” said UNT Emergency Manager Blake Abbe.

The goal is two have two more up in Addison and Fort Worth by next spring but some grant money is pending on those two.

A total of eight installations are planned as part of a five year, $10-million collaborative project for early storm warnings.

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