*The new radar system in Shannon Airport. 

MET ÉIREANN’s new weather radar system at Shannon Airport is now operational, the Irish National Meteorological Service has confirmed, one month later than initially announced.

More accurate rainfall information will now be available to the weather forecasters. The 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.

Shannon’s new weather radar system 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 the “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”.

Delays with the upgrade have recently been criticised by Clare councillors with Cllr Mary Howard (FG) tabling a motion seeking an update from Met Éireann on the planned upgrade. “It was initially said in May that it would be completed in September, I am conscious of the weather facing into the winter and I’m hearing rumours of another Beast from the East”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus based Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) said, “Shannon Airport marketing has been weak in my opinion”. He referenced the recent fog which caused cancelleations in Shannon, “any service that adds to the benefit of Shannon Airport we have to be keeping an eye on the future”.

Farmers got “caught out” this summer without the radar system, Cllr Shane Talty (FF) noted. “On a daily basis in relation to agriculture and sport, I find the Met Éireann app to be incredibly reliable, I wasn’t aware that the Shannon system wasn’t working until talking to a silage contractor over the summer, it a very narrow time for them to get work done, that difficulty was compounded by the reliance on Knock and Cork radar, a lot of farmers got caught out with unexpected rain”.

Clare County Council’s climate action plan which is currently out for public consultation was described by Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) as “crucially important”. He said Co Clare was “one of the most exposed counties to climate change. We don’t have mountains so precipitation comes right in, this equipment and technology is very important, we’ve had the driest February, the wettest March, the hottest June, the wettest July on record already, this information is crucial”.

An ”important function” is served by the Shannon weather station, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) stated. “It serves such an important function and is known globally, we need to retain available expertise in Shannon”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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