A new state-of-the-art radar, replacing the former weather radar at Lewis in has
A Met Office weather tracking station at Bayble in Point, Lewis, which scans 160
miles out to sea for UK-wide forecasting.
The new weather radar facility at Druim ‘a Starraig - the most northerly in Britain
- will provide advance warning of severe weather approaching from the north and west.
The real-time information will help forecasters in Scotland and the wider UK and
will be instrumental in fulfilling the National Severe Weather Warning Service which
raised alerts of recent storms and flooding.
The new facility can - for the first time - capture the size and shape of raindrops
and snowflakes. These new scientific advancements will ultimately lead to improvements
in the accuracy of rainfall estimates, particularly during high impact weather events
and they are the latest step by the Met Office to upgrade its 30 year old radar network.
The new radar has also begun to capture wind speed measurements.
The network is one of the longest established radar networks of its kind in the world
and consists of 15 radars across the UK.
Dave Jones Head of Met Office observations said: “Weather radar provides the only
means of measuring the spatial extent and distribution of rainfall over a wide geographical
“The most intense rainfall events are often highly localised and can therefore be
missed or under-sampled by rain gauge networks, and whilst their occurrence can be
forecast with skill, it is often not currently possible to forecast their exact location.
“Radar therefore provides a crucial input to short-range weather forecasts (nowcasts)
of precipitation rate, and improves the skill of weather forecasts when it is assimilated
into numerical weather prediction models.”
The radar at Lewis was originally opened in 1991 and is the most northerly radar
in the network. It is situated on a hill, in an area where peat is extracted for
domestic heating. The hill was previously un-named, and the radar was initially named
‘Beacon Hill ’ by the Met Office.
The system was developed in-house by Met Office engineers, combining world-leading
hardware with unparalleled levels of skill and expertise. Wherever possible equipment
was sourced locally ensuring the project, while cost effective, also supported the
The new solution is based on ‘Open System Architecture’, which makes it more flexible
than the previous network and more adaptable and easier to upgrade in the future
as radar technology continues to develop.