Doug Mouton / Northshore Bureau Chief
Email: | Twitter: @dmoutonwwl

SLIDELL, La. - Just before noon Friday, meteorologist Robert Ricks got a weather balloon ready because severe weather was a possibility.

The balloon traveled for roughly 90 minutes, taking atmospheric readings along its journey.

It's one of many tools scientists at the National Weather Service office in Slidell use daily.

The newest tool, dual polarization, is an improvement to doppler radar.

'With the doppler radar, we can see the winds and the rotation. With the dual pole, we can see the actual rising and falling of air particles, of water molecules. So, we're going to see hail size. Big hail, small hail, which way it's going. It's going to help us get better detection of tornadoes,' said Ken Graham, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Dual pole can help meteorologists give quicker and more accurate warnings, because it gives a more complete two dimensional view, horizontally and vertically.

It can also help scientists better predict rainfall amounts.

'We'll get an idea more of the density of the rain, the size of the water particles. So that will give us a better idea of maybe rainfall rates, the intensity,' Frank Revitte, a NationalWeather Service meteorologist, said.

Dual pole is the next step up.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said the next quantum leap is the phased array radar.

'We'll get data every three or four seconds. It's unprecedented information. It will be as big of a game changer as the doppler radar was back in the 90's,' Graham said. 'Phased array should arrive within the next decade. Dual pole comes to Slidell...within the next year.'

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