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Met Éireann 'praying and hoping' that Ireland's 'most important' rainfall radar stays online

The Shannon Airport rainfall radar was forced offline several times last year.

Image: Met Éireann

MET ÉIREANN HAS revealed that it is planning to introduce two new radar locations to its map as part of an upgrade of the country’s entire network in coming years.

The forecaster recently announced that it will upgrade the Shannon Airport rainfall radar, after power failures, overheating and positioning problems caused the country’s “most important” weather radar to go offline for several weeks at a time during 2019.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie before Christmas, Met Éireann’s head of Forecasting Evelyn Cusack said the forecaster expected the replacement radar to be up and running by next year.

“The Shannon Radar was installed in 1996 so technologically wise it’s pretty old at this stage,” she said.

“We are getting a new one, hopefully in the next year because it’s really on its last legs now, so it has been repaired.”

The radar provides coverage of rainfall and wind in south-western counties and is used by Met Éireann as part of its weather forecasts for that part of the country, but it also crucial to reports for the rest of Ireland too.

“It’s extremely important for Met Éireann and for citizens because most of our rain comes in from the Atlantic, so its first detection really is in Shannon,” Cusack explained.

“We’re just praying and hoping that the current repairs will keep Shannon radar alive until we get it replaced.”

She also revealed that the upgrade at Shannon would be one of five new radars across the forecaster’s network.

As well as upgrades to two other radars, Met Éireann will add radars to two new locations in the coming years: one in the north-west and another in the south-east.

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“We’re going to get a brand new site in the north-west of Ireland because that’s pretty under represented now,” she said.

“There’s a radar in Caster Bay in the east of Northern Ireland, so we’ve nothing in the northwest so we’ll get an extra one…

“The south-east will get an extra one, a new one at Shannon, a new one in Dublin and then so one more perhaps in the Midlands or to the southwest of Ireland. We’re really excited about that.”

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