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Bill Meck explains: What makes MaxTrack 2.0 the most accurate radar in Lexington?

Posted at 11:02 AM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 11:02:04-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The LEX 18 StormTracker Weather Team said farewell to an old friend this week.

The MaxTrack Live Doppler, which has been central Kentucky's only LIVE Doppler radar for years, was officially decommissioned after 18 years of service to the Bluegrass. It was the tool that allowed our meteorologists to give timely and life-saving warnings for Lexington's Masterson Station tornado in 2004 as well as the horrible tornadoes of March 2, 2012. The weathered Doppler ball has stood over the north side of Lexington since 2003.

The original MaxTrack had to leave to make room for the state-of-the-art MaxTrack 2.0. Like its predecessor, MaxTrack 2.0 will be the most accurate radar for Lexington and most of central Kentucky, giving us real-time, detailed looks at rain, thunderstorms, and tornadoes. With fast-moving thunderstorms and tornadic situations, the truly LIVE radar shows exactly where the storm is, not where it was, which can be miles of difference.

You can simply look at your cell phone to see how much technology has advanced in the last two decades. Similar technological advancements have occurred with radars. We'll be able to show you with greater precision what's going on inside strong and severe thunderstorms. The MaxTrack 2.0 will be generating easier-to-understand products to indicate where there is a dangerous twisting of the winds, giving you time and knowing when to prepare.

The MaxTrack 2.0 operates at 350,000 watts of power, giving us complete coverage of central and eastern Kentucky. The Doppler radar sends out a beam of microwave energy designed to reflect off of raindrops. When that reflection comes back to the radar, the time that it takes and the intensity of the reflection shows up as the different colors you see on a radar display. With a Doppler radar, it also listens for the change in frequency (pitch) of the reflection. If the raindrop is moving toward the radar, the reflection comes back at a slightly higher frequency. If the drop is moving away, the frequency is lower. When we see that next to each other in thunderstorms, it's a sign that there is some rotation or twisting of the winds, and the storm may be severe or even tornadic.

MaxTrack 2.0 will be the only live Doppler radar in Lexington. You can count on LEX 18 StormTracker Weather for the most accurate severe weather coverage.