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Upgraded radar helped detect Hattiesburg tornado

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The technology is called dual polarization and it can identify more specific layers within a storm system, including the presence of debris. The technology is called dual polarization and it can identify more specific layers within a storm system, including the presence of debris.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

You could call the Feb. 10 tornadoes that swept through Hattiesburg a pop quiz for the new radar system at the National Weather Service in Jackson. They'd had the upgrade for just a few weeks but didn't expect it would be tested so soon.

"This enabled us to issue warnings for a special tornado emergency wording to help heighten awareness about the huge tornado moving into the Hattiesburg area," said Alan Gerard with the National Weather Service in Jackson.

The technology is called dual polarization and it can identify more specific layers within a storm system, including the presence of debris.

"With the dual-pol, it can actually detect the shape and size of the objects," explained Gerard.

Experts at the NWS expect that feature to be particularly helpful when tornadoes hit rural areas at night.

"We think it's already saved lives but that's what this is about, saving lives. Getting the information to the people as soon as possible," said Senator Roger Wicker (R).

Advanced and more detailed warnings are some of the advantages of the new system.

"The fact that we have no fatalities, 80 injuries and you look at the damage and destruction, there is no other logical explanation as to why we didn't have fatalities in that area," said Robert Latham, Mississippi Emergency Management Director.

The weather crew says they're hoping the upgrade will help ensure advanced warnings and save lives again in the future.

"If we can learn lessons from what went right, hopefully we can duplicate that because we know it won't be the last time," described Gerard.

Gerard adds the "dual-pol" radar also allowed them to issue flash flood warnings ahead of time for the Jackson area last weekend.

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