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updated: 9/18/2012 4:25 PM

New radar gives weather office a 3-D look at storms

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Associated Press

LINCOLN, Ill. -- The National Weather Service office that tells central Illinois when it needs to be wary of the weather is getting a radar upgrade this fall that will give forecasters a detailed, 3-D look at storms headed across the region.

The Weather Service office in Lincoln expects installation of new dual-polarization radar to begin around Oct. 1 and last about two weeks.

When it's finished, meteorologist Chris Miller tells The (Bloomington) Pantagraph, the new technology will allow him to be able to see the size of the raindrops, snowflakes or hailstones that are falling in a moving storm. That will give forecasters a better idea of the storm's severity and improve their ability to warn people in the storm's path of what is coming their way.

"It's important (because of) the type of information we can brief people about," Miller said.

The Doppler radar that the Lincoln office now uses to forecast weather for 35 central Illinois counties provides a much less detailed view.

Many Weather Service sites around the country already use the new technology. The installation is part of a $50 million federal plan to upgrade technology at another 160 sites. The cost breaks down to about $225,000 in Lincoln.

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