New weather radar is the first step of Met Éireann’s radar modernisation and expansion programme
13th October 2023: Met Éireann, the Irish National Meteorological Service, has announced that its new weather radar system at Shannon Airport is now operational and will provide more accurate rainfall information to the weather forecasters and the rainfall radar maps on met.ie and the Met Éireann app.
This new weather radar is the first step in Met Éireann’s strategic development plan to upgrade and expand the national weather radar network over the next ten years. During this period, the number of radars will triple, from two to six, covering key areas across the country to ensure optimal coverage and forecasting accuracy.
The new weather radar system in Shannon uses the latest dual-polarisation technology which will enable meteorologists to better distinguish between different types of precipitation such as rain, hail or snow. This technology also enables better identification and removal of non-meteorological targets such as birds and insects from the data. As a result, Met Éireann will be able to issue more precise and timely weather forecasts and warnings for significant weather events, for the benefit of the public, emergency services and the aviation, maritime, farming and other sectors.
Dr. Sarah Gallagher, Head of the Observations Division at Met Éireann, said: “Met Éireann is delighted to have successfully completed this important first step in the upgrade of this critical source of weather information. The weather radar at Shannon Airport is vitally important as most of Ireland’s weather comes from the Atlantic, so Shannon is a fantastic location for the first detection and analysis of these rainfall events. This radar will increase the accuracy of our forecasts and of the rainfall radar service for the benefit of all. Our team is already analysing the radar’s new data with a view to further enhancing our service with new features next year.
“This state-of-art upgrade was complex and involved significant background work examining the hardware, technologies to be used, civil works at an airport infrastructure and adapting our systems to accommodate this new information and data.”
She added: “This is the first step of a longer-term scientific project to expand the national weather radar network beyond Shannon and Dublin and we’re excited to continue innovating and investing in science as part of our commitment to public safety and wellbeing. We’re already researching sites for four additional radars to optimise rainfall detection and coverage capabilities across the country.”
12th October 2023
The new Shannon weather radar has been successfully installed and is undergoing final testing this week. Its data is already feeding into the rainfall radar maps on Full-screen maps and the Met Éireann app, on an intermittent basis, to ensure the best possible service is provided.
During any service interruptions, it will be substituted by data from the temporary weather radar which has been providing coverage during the past few months.
More updates will be provided as the new Shannon radar becomes fully operational, once final tests complete shortly.
16th August 2023
Big Milestone today in Met Éireann’s Shannon Weather Radar Replacement project! It was a good day for the crane lift of the radar components.
Next steps are installation, commissioning, & operational testing of the radar. Shannon radar rainfall observations will be back by mid-October.
19th May 2023
Met Éireann has announced that it is replacing the weather radar located at Shannon Airport to install a brand-new weather radar system with upgraded technology and capabilities. This is the first step of a planned futureproofing process to strategically develop and expand the capability of the overall national weather radar network maintained by Met Éireann, over this and the next decade.
The Shannon weather radar is part of the national weather radar network, which currently consists of two weather radars, one located at Shannon Airport and the other at Dublin Airport. This weather radar network provides a continuous stream of information via the Met Éireann website and app, and is used to provide information on the location and intensity of precipitation across Ireland. The new weather radar system in Shannon will provide enhanced precipitation measurement capabilities. This will result in benefits for Met Éireann forecasting services and for the rainfall radar maps offered to the public.
Replacement work is starting in May and is expected to be completed by autumn 2023. During this period there will be a modified radar service in the South and West of the country, with a temporary weather radar system operating from Co. Cork. Throughout the radar replacement, Met Éireann’s forecasting services will continue as normal however, changes can be expected on the radar image shown on ‘Latest Radar’ on met.ie and on the Met Éireann app, for the South and the West of Ireland. This is because the radar image will show combined information from the weather radar at Dublin Airport, the temporary one in Co. Cork and two UK Met Office weather radars in Belfast and Wales, when available.
The current Shannon weather radar is a C-band single-polarisation radar, which was installed in 1996 and upgraded in 2010. It uses a radar pulse with a wavelength of 5.6 cm. This wavelength is suited to operation in Ireland, as it is sensitive enough to detect light rain and drizzle (common forms of precipitation).
The new Shannon radar to be installed in Shannon Airport will be dual-polarisation. Dual-polarisation weather radars involve cutting-edge technology and software with the ability to discern between types of precipitation like rain, heavy rain, snow and sleet, and they have better performance than single polarisation radars in discerning precipitation from objects such as buildings or birds.
Sarah Gallagher, Head of the Observations Division in Met Éireann, said: “As part of our continual improvement, Met Éireann looks forward to delivering this state-of-the-art weather radar that will serve the south-west and national public for many years to come with high quality precipitation observations. Ireland’s weather radar data is fundamental to the provision of accurate forecasts and weather warnings, supporting emergency management and the protection of life and property”.
Do you want to know more about weather radar and how Met Éireann uses it?
- Check out our recent podcast ‘How Weather Radar Works’ here (Season 4, Episode 4), with radar meteorologist Sinéad Duffy.
- For the Met Éireann Rainfall Radar service, have a look at the ‘Latest Radar’ on our ‘Weather Maps’ on met.ie or at the Rainfall Radar on the Met Éireann app. In addition, radar data is available free of charge via the Irish Government open data portal https://data.gov.ie/dataset/rainfall-radar.
- For common radar queries, please visit the FAQ page
- …and finally, over the course of the summer keep an eye on our socials to see how the replacement is going!