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New Software Could Detect Oklahoma Severe Weather Sooner

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The new software is expected to be a step-up from the current. The new software is expected to be a step-up from the current.
In Oklahoma, blue skies can quickly change to gray. In Oklahoma, blue skies can quickly change to gray.
Steve Amburn with the National Weather Service. Steve Amburn with the National Weather Service.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The National Weather Service will soon be using new software that will help them detect severe weather faster; Tulsa is one of a handful of locations testing it.

The new software is expected to be a step-up from the current; and with Oklahoma's severe weather, even an extra minute of warning could be the difference between survival and tragedy.

In Oklahoma, blue skies can quickly change to gray.

Whether the severe weather is hail, a thunderstorm, or tornado, the National Weather Service is one of the first to know when it's going to hit, thanks to its high tech weather radar system.

"The one we're currently using, and we have that available now, is about every two minutes we'll get another look right at the ground level," said Steve Amburn with the National Weather Service.

The current radar system is fast but the new one will be faster, able to get weather readings in within 60 seconds.

"I've seen a wisp of a funnel getting started from the base of a thunder storm and in two minutes that's on the ground. That's how fast they can form here. But with this new software we'll be able to see that development down toward the ground a little quicker and hopefully we've got the warning out head of time and if we don't this will help us do that," Amburn said.

The system is called SAIL, which stands for supplemental adaptive intra-volume low level scan. It's not in service right now, but it will be in a month and the Tulsa office is one of a few to test it first.

Amburn said, "We're gonna get to put it through its paces here"

Current radar programs scan entire areas, which, in some cases, can take five to ten minutes; but SAIL will be able to isolate areas on the radar with severe weather and scan the air at different levels to tell how and where severe weather is forming.

Even if it adds just a little to the warn time, every second counts when it comes to severe weather in Oklahoma.

This will be the first wave of updated radar software. The next will be able to perform more scans in one sweep.

Tulsa will be one of the top two weather services to test that software out.

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