WCAU’s New Million Dollar Weather Truck

IMG_0466It’s one mean million dollar set of wheels, the first-of-its-kind mobile Doppler weather radar truck, StormRanger10.

Although WCAU, the NBC O&O in Philadelphia, officially announced the deployment of StormRanger10 yesterday, I came across a promo for it on Facebook in early July.

One of the first comments was from the station’s VP of news, Anzio Williams, which not only caught my eye, but kind of says it all about the truck.

I don’t know if it cost a million dollars, but according to a statement from the station, StormRanger10 is a game-changer, able to detect weather in real time that other fixed radars can miss.

And it’s the first in a fleet of StormRangers that the NBC-Owned stations will launch in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, and Southern California and Bay Area markets by the beginning of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio on Aug. 5.

All of the mobile radar trucks will serve the NBC and Telemundo-owned stations located throughout the country.

Valari Staab

Valari Staab

“We are boosting our weather forecasting capabilities by building, from scratch, the first-of-its-kind fleet of mobile weather radars in the country because we know how important weather is to our viewers,” said Valari Staab, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations president.

“All of our stations will have access to this groundbreaking weather technology so they can deliver even more lifesaving weather information to their communities.”

What does this all mean for viewers?

Glenn Schwartz

Glenn Schwartz

“StormRanger10 gives us a clearer picture of what’s inside each storm so we can share the most accurate and reliable storm forecasts in real time,” said Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz, WCAU’s chief meteorologist.

In the Philadelphia area, for example, StormRanger10 will be able to fill in known gaps in the National Weather Service’s coverage like in the Lehigh Valley, and in Berks and Chester Counties.

How does it do that?

For techno-geeks, StormRanger10 features an X-band, dual polarization, Doppler weather radar with a range of 75 miles fixed atop a Dodge Ram truck capable of seeing around terrain previously unreachable by fixed radar.

“We now will provide our viewers with the most comprehensive look at changing weather, in real time, so they can prepare and protect their families,” said Williams.

IMG_0389Richard Stedronsky, a meteorologist and director of strategic business development and partnerships at Enterprise Electronics Corp., a manufacturer of commercial weather radar systems, said. “The radar beam from a fixed radar is too high in the atmosphere to see lower weather phenomena, but that’s where severe weather takes place — in the lowest parts of the atmosphere. With StormRanger, you can take your viewers to the weather and gather information that a traditional fixed radar could be missing.

“Each StormRanger will also be better able to detect snow, light rain, hail, and particles in the atmosphere, as well as tornado debris fields and smoke.”

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