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New Doppler Radar System to Improve Storm Tracking in Southeast Oklahoma

Oklahomans in the southeast of the state will soon have better tools for tracking severe weather. The town of Durant received a grant for a new Doppler radar system, which will help meteorologists not just there, but hundreds of miles away.

The city of Durant and surrounding areas are in what is called a “Doppler radar dead zone”. This means that the nearest radar sites surrounding the area are over 100 miles away. The beams are so far apart that they don’t provide very good storm detail.

This is a problem that has been going on for several years, and there have been security issues. Tornadoes in 2016 and 2019 in the town of Blue, Oklahoma were not fully detected by radar until the storm had fully formed.

People died in both storms in Blue, about 10 miles east of Durant. Lawmakers took action last year and included a $1.6 million grant in the state budget for 2021. The money will allow the city to install a radar site to expand coverage in this area.

6 News Meteorologist Stephen Nehrenz said the National Weather Service and others are excited and ready for the new site. “A new radar out there is going to be a huge benefit in giving all the meteorologists a much better view of a thunderstorm, analyzing the rotation, analyzing the severity of a storm. It’s going to make things a lot easier, a lot more accurate,” says Nehrenz.

Durant’s emergency manager said there have been delays, but they expect the site to be finished in September.