The Weather Authority launches WINK Doppler 3X, SWFL’s most advanced radar

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Southwest Florida’s newest, most powerful radar took its place, on May 27, atop a tower off of State Road 31 in Charlotte County.

WINK, the Weather Authority, was already the station viewers in Southwest Florida trusted most for storm coverage— especially during hurricane season. Now WINK’s storm reporting is even stronger thanks to its new WINK Doppler 3X dual-polarization radar.

WINK’s dual-pol Doppler radar is the most powerful in Southwest Florida, three times more powerful than any other station’s radar. “The value of having this radar is incredibly important,” says Matt Devitt, WINK chief meteorologist. “We’ll be closer to these storms, and we’ll be able to see inside them.”

Less powerful radars at a greater distance from weather fronts only allow meteorologists to see the top half of storms. But the bottom half, beneath the pulse of the radar beams, goes undetected. This can be a challenge for meteorologists who want to give viewers a full breakdown of a weather event.

“We want to see most of, if not the entire storm,” Devitt says.

This is particularly important for storms that might yield tornadoes. “If we think we have a possible tornado at the base of a cloud, but we can only see the top half of a storm, then we can’t see the rotation,” Devitt says. “And that’s a problem.”

A tornado formation follows a pattern as it develops. Dual-pol Doppler radar allows WINK, The Weather Authority, to see the pattern develop, adding precious advance warning to those in the storm’s path. And advance warning capabilities are a life saver.

For WINK, The Weather Authority, the new radar checks all the boxes. It provides new levels of accuracy, advance warning in the name of safety and superior technology.

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Before WINK, The Weather Authority, acquired its new radar, the closest dual-pol Doppler radars were in Tampa and Miami. “The maximum range of how far each of those radars can ‘see’ is 150 miles,” explains WINK meteorologist KC Sherman.

Although Fort Myers is within range, those radars sometimes missed weather events. “A light rain might be falling over Fort Myers, but because it hadn’t built up into a thunderstorm cloud there wouldn’t be a blip on the radar,” Sherman says.

A missed rain shower is one thing, but the radars in Tampa and Miami could potentially miss more severe weather events in the Fort Myers area, like tornado activity. But WINK’s new Doppler radar won’t miss a thing. “Our radar will be close enough to detect those details,” Sherman says. “That’s so important when it comes down to saving people’s lives.”

The new Doppler radar transmits and receives pulses in both a horizontal and vertical orientation—that’s where the dual-polarization comes in—giving meteorologists a highly accurate view of potential danger, such as an approaching hurricane.

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