The Columbia area will have access to a new level of safety from severe weather. The University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources will debut a new Doppler radar at the ninth annual South Farm Showcase on Saturday, Sept. 26.
This tool will allow residents in a 65-mile radius of Columbia to gain a more accurate reading of the weather. The radar will officially open for operation with the ribbon cutting at the Showcase.
Up to this point, the closest National Weather Service radar has been in St. Louis. Neil Fox, MU associate professor of atmospheric sciences, said Columbia gets good readings from that radar, but it is so far away that sometimes it doesn’t show what’s happening near the ground.
Students in the MU atmospheric science program will also benefit from the new radar. The National Science Foundation funded the grant not only to provide a more accurate weather forecast, but also to give students hands on experience with radar. In addition, students will have the opportunity to research how plants respond to the climate around them.
“There aren’t many universities that have their own radar,” Fox said. “This could give our students an edge.”
Before the radar, Fox said it was difficult for his students to truly understand the real life implications behind the data they were entering. Thanks to this Doppler radar and a new lab class he will be offering, students will be able to control the radar and bring the data to life.
In addition to the reveal of the new Doppler radar, the South Farm Showcase features family friendly events with several activities especially designed for children. Exhibits and activities will be set up across the farm including cockroach races, corn and straw bale mazes, face painting, cow milking, and hay and mule rides.
“The best part is seeing the look on the children’s faces,” said Donna Thomas, business support specialist for the MU South Farm. “A lot of kids have left over the years saying, ‘that was the best day of my life!’”
The showcase will shuttle groups to different exhibits where they can taste some of Missouri’s peppers and salsa, and learn more about drones The showcase gives the Columbia community the chance to learn about research going on at the center.
Admission is free, and the event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the MU South Farm Research Center.