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CASA Radar Aims To Improve How We Track And Study Severe Storms
CASA radars in a DFW Warehouse

A new type of weather radar is being tested in North Texas – it was used during December’s deadly tornadoes; and it has a long name: Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of The Atmosphere or CASA. Mark Fox is with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth and he explores the future of Texas weather technology.

  Interview Highlights: Mark Fox

... on how CASA works: "One of the things that it does is try to fill in some of the gaps. We've got network all across the country, quite a few of them. One if Fort Worth the next one is down in Granger and to the west it's Abilene. So, as the radar beam goes out ya know the earth curves down in a way so you get higher and higher as you go out. The CASA radars are a network of smaller radars that are designed to see the low levels very fast and very quick and try to fill in some of those gaps from the bigger larger network radars.

This map uses data from the U.S. government to show where tornadoes touched down between 1950 and 2011 and the deaths and injuries they caused.

... on CASA and NEXRAD: "The current system is called NEXRAD and it's still a very good radar. In fact it's one of the basic tools that we use at the National Weather service, not only the one in Fort Worth. There's a terminal Doppler radar at DFW and also at love field. To see underneath those radars we're testing the CASA program, so we're taking a look at every piece of information we can.

... on CASA replacing storm spotters: "I'm not sure if we're ever going to be able to replace the human element. That is a good thing with the CASA radars, that it is fast and it is high resolution - but it when it comes down to it, it is a tool and you need another tool to supplement all the tools out there. So, using the radars, the network, the NEXRAD radars plus the CASA plus the human spotters - I think that is the ideal goal.

Mark Fox is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.