The Shannon Airport weather radar. Met Éireann

Met Éireann promises 'more precise' forecasts with new weather radar system at Shannon Airport

Replacement work began on the weather radar system in May.

MET ÉIREANN HAS launched its new advanced weather radar system at Shannon Airport which is set to offer “more precise” forecasts going forward. 

The national forecaster said the new system, which is now operational, will provide more accurate rainfall information and the rainfall radar maps online.

Met Éireann operates and maintains the national weather radar network, which is currently comprised of two weather radars, located at Shannon Airport and Dublin Airport. 

This weather radar network provides a stream of real-time information through the Met Éireann website and app. It’s also used to provide information on the location and intensity of rain across Ireland.

There has been some issued with the Shannon radar in recent years, with power failures, overheating and positioning problems causing the country’s “most important” weather radar to go offline for several weeks at a time during 2019.

Replacement work began on the radar in May as part of Met Éireann’s development plan to upgrade and expand the national weather radar network over the next ten years.

According to Met Éireann, the number of radars will triple from two to six during this period, which will ensure “optimal coverage and forecasting accuracy” to key areas across the country.

The new weather radar system in Shannon “uses the latest dual-polarisation technology which will enable meteorologists to better distinguish between different types of precipitation such as rain, hail or snow”, the forecaster said.

The technology will also enable better identification and removal of non-meteorological targets such as birds and insects from the data.

“As a result, Met Éireann will be able to issue more precise and timely weather forecasts and warnings for significant weather events, for the benefit of the public, emergency services and the aviation, maritime, farming and other sectors.”

Head of the Observations Division at Met Éireann, Dr Sarah Gallagher, said the national forecaster is delighted to have completed the upgrade.

“The weather radar at Shannon Airport is vitally important as most of Ireland’s weather comes from the Atlantic, so Shannon is a fantastic location for the first detection and analysis of these rainfall events,” she said.

“This radar will increase the accuracy of our forecasts and of the rainfall radar service for the benefit of all. Our team is already analysing the radar’s new data with a view to further enhancing our service with new features next year.”

Gallagher said the upgrade was complex and involved significant background work examining the hardware and technologies to be used, as well as civil works at an airport infrastructure and adapting Met Éireann’s systems to accommodate the new data. 

“This is the first step of a longer-term scientific project to expand the national weather radar network beyond Shannon and Dublin and we’re excited to continue innovating and investing in science as part of our commitment to public safety and wellbeing. We’re already researching sites for four additional radars to optimise rainfall detection and coverage capabilities across the country.”

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