Did you hear? It rained this week. And last week, too. September's showers marked the first rain to touch down in Los Angeles County since May.
Covering the weather in Southern California is serious business.
NBC4 recently upped its game with the purchase of a brand new, state of the art truck with a mobile Doppler radar attached to the back. Maybe you've seen the ad:
Doppler, by the way, is a common method of tracking weather using microwave signals. Unlike traditional radars, doppler radars can track the velocity and direction of a storm.
NBC named the new truck "StormRanger" and the onboard technology is intense: a state of the art doppler radar, five computers, six screens, five keyboards and the ability to transmit real time weather data from anywhere in Southern California.
The station called the investment "significant" but wouldn't say how much it all cost — the radar itself retails for around $650,000, though. Why drop that kind of coin? Especially in a city where rain is so rare?
"We have nine microclimates in Southern California," says Fritz Coleman, weatherman for the station. "Every one of those microclimates has their own specific needs. It could be sunny and 112 degrees in Palm Springs but raining really hard with a potential for mud slides in a burn area in Santa Barbara."
Coleman says the StormRanger will give NBC a leg up on other affiliate stations — the station can cover dramatic weather events quicker and with more precision. Plus, they can run promos like the one above.
And even though it's brand new, the truck's been put to good use covering a cloud of a different kind: smoke plumes from brush fires.
"We gave it its inaugural run up at the Blue Cut Fire up in Cajon Pass," says Coleman. "One of the beauties of the sensitivity of this Doppler is that we can track smoke, and we can track the intensity of the fire."