KATU launches VIPIR, the 'nerdtacular' weather radar system

PORTLAND, Ore. - It's Christmas in October here at the KATU Storm Tracker Weather Center. We have a brand new toy and the batteries have been included. But considering it costs as much as a house, I really shouldn't call it a toy - makes the bosses a bit upset. Still, it's as much fun as my first Erector Set.

Beginning Thursday morning KATU will debut VIPIR (Volumetric Imaging & Processing Integrated Radar). More than a present for the weather geeks here at KATU, this is also a present for our viewers. VIPIR is simply the best weather radar display on the market today.

Barons systems in Alabama built our VIPIR radar unit. For over 25 years Barons has been recognized as the leader in weather radar. The company has the contract to upgrade all of the National Weather Service's WSR-88D radars to Dual Pole Doppler Radar by 2013.

What kind of an advantage does VIPIR have over its competition? The answer is five minutes. Let me explain: Weather radars scan various elevations creating a volume scan. Software in the VIPIR computer then lets us create a 3D view of what the radar sees. The computer does this faster, five minutes faster and in more detail than any competitors can.

Besides showing precipitation intensity, VIPIR can predict rain and snowfall rates up to 24 hours in advance using a computer model called BAMs. The accuracy of BAMs modeling has been incredible with the rain we've see this past week. I wish I could have used it on air, but this project has been under wraps for months.

We've paired VIPIR with a new Omni 3 HD weather graphics computer. I can honestly say that the new weather maps and displays we're making are stunning. I've included a link so you can look at some the products you'll see on KATU in the near future.

Rhonda Shelby won the coin toss so she gets to debut the system Thursday morning. Dang, I knew we should have drawn cards instead. Let us know what you think.

Watch the VIPIR system in action during Thursday's forecast!