Durant to get $1.6M new Doppler radar system

staff reports
A map of shows all of the Doppler Radar sites scattered across the United States.

The Oklahoma Emergency Management Director Mark Gower presented Durant with a $1.6 million grant award letter at last week's City Council meeting.

The grant will cover costs to purchase and manage a new Doppler radar system, giving people in the Texoma region more lead time during severe weather events.

"The new radar system will close a coverage gap for citizens within an 85-mile radius of Durant," a news release about the presentation said. "Storm spotters have assisted heavily with filling this gap, especially during tornado warnings."

Currently, the two nearest public access Doppler radars are in the Metroplex and Oklahoma City. Officials said this creates a delay in receiving weather radar because the National Weather Service can’t see below 11,000 feet, and Durant is just outside of this range.

“Problems that come by the beam distancing from the radar sites, beam broadening and the lack of storm detail that can be determined the further you are from the radar site,” Durant Assistant City Manager James Dalton said in the release.

The Doppler radar system in Durant is expected to give an added layer of protection and some peace of mind after the 2016 and 2019 tornadoes in nearby Blue. Those storms were not detected by radar until fully formed, and the subsequent tornadoes caused fatalities in city just 10 miles east of Durant.

Engineer and professor Richard "Dick" Doviak was a pioneer in the use of Doppler radar in meteorology. The former leader of the weather radar program at the National Severe Storms Laboratory died March 12.

Oklahoma House of Representative Dustin Roberts and Senator David Bullard were instrumental in getting the State to include the grant money in the 2021 budget.

The grant will be administered by Durant’s Emergency Management department.