Benjamin Franklin once said, “Time is money.” But when it comes to tornado season in North Texas, time is safety. And time is one of the main advantages of the new Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of Atmosphere weather radar system emergency management officials hope to bring to Johnson County.
Johnson County residents depend on the National Weather Service to stay apprised of severe weather threats. And the National Weather Service depends on images provided by the NEXRAD Doppler radar system — a system of 159 high-powered, long-range radars sitting on top of towers positioned about 200 miles apart to cover the country. The closest tower is at Spinks Airport in Burleson.
Doppler radar takes at least five minutes to make a complete 360-degree circular scan and provide updated information and images, said Amanda Everly, emergency preparedness information analyst with the North Central Texas Council of Government. That means a fast-moving storm miles away in one Doppler scan could be right on top of you by the time the radar is able to offer new information.
Everly said the new CASA weather radar can give updated information in about a minute.
And when it comes to tracking a killer tornado, those four minutes between Doppler and CASA can mean the difference between life and death.
“That extra three or four minutes of heads up we could get with CASA, that could save peoples’ lives,” said Jamie Moore, emergency management coordinator for Johnson County. “With CASA, we could see the weather happening in real time. That can be critical for those planning for and responding to emergency situations.”
That’s why Moore and other emergency management officials are working to bring the CASA weather radar system to Johnson County.
Eight CASA units will be installed at strategic locations in an overlapping pattern around the 16-county region encompassed by NCTCOG. Eventually, officials want to have a total of 22 of the new radar units.