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ULM’s Doppler weather radar approved for operation by federal government

Published June 14, 2016

MONROE, La. — It was announced this week that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted the University of Louisiana Monroe the license to operate its Doppler weather radar.

The operation of the radar had been pending federal approval for months, but now, with the help of Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D. R-Alto, a license to operate has officially been granted to the university.  

“This process has been very complicated, and we want to thank Congressman Ralph Abraham for the help he and his staff provided in routing the paperwork through the necessary federal agencies,” said Dr. Eric Pani, ULM Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Everyone agreed that radar data will help protect northeast Louisiana residents, so there was a desire to expedite the approval.”

According to university officials, the next step will be for Enterprise Electronics Corporation (ECC)–the company hired to manufacture and erect the radar–to send a technician to adjust the radar frequency to the one assigned by the FCC and to install a filter to keep that frequency within tolerance. The university hopes the radar will become operational by mid-July.

“It was important to me that we do whatever we could to help ULM activate this radar because it is going to give Northeast Louisiana more weather data, data that will save lives during tornadoes and other storms, Dr. Abraham said. “I’m glad to see that this radar will finally become a reality.” 

The university is planning a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official operation of the radar.

About ULM’s Doppler weather radar

In 2012, ULM was awarded a $3 million grant through the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOSHEP) to acquire a Doppler weather radar.

The ULM weather radar is a scanning polarimetric Doppler radar operating at S-band with a beam width of 0.95°. In addition to being an education and research tool for the Department of Atmospheric Science, the radar will fill a low-level NEXRAD coverage gap over northeast Louisiana and southeast Arkansas. The radar data will be available to GOSHEP to help serve their mission of protecting life and property in this region, which is important considering the ArkLaMiss is prone to severe weather. Agreements are being negotiated for other users to have access to the data.

ULM is the only primarily undergraduate institution in the United States with a S-band polarimetric Doppler weather radar. ULM students will receive hands-on instruction at the undergraduate level on radar operation, in addition to advanced radar analysis and interpretation techniques. This will uniquely position ULM graduates for jobs that require radar operation and/or analysis skill.