Irish meteorological service Met Éireann is to upgrade the weather radar system located at Shannon Airport.

Met Éireann will install a brand-new weather radar system with upgraded technology and capabilities. This is the first step in a futureproofing process that will involve strategically developing and expanding the capability of the national weather radar network, the organisation said. 

The Shannon weather radar is part of the national weather radar network, which currently consists of two weather radars, one at Shannon Airport and the other at Dublin Airport. This weather radar network provides a steady stream of information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year via the Met Éireann website and app, and is used to provide information on the location and intensity of precipitation across Ireland. The new weather radar system in Shannon will provide enhanced precipitation measurement capabilities. This will result in benefits for Met Éireann forecasting services and for the rainfall radar maps offered to the public.

Replacement work is starting in May and is expected to be completed by autumn 2023. During this period there will be a modified radar service in the South and West of the country, with a temporary weather radar system operating from Co. Cork. Throughout the radar replacement, Met Éireann’s forecasting services will continue as normal, but changes can be expected on the radar image shown on ‘Latest Radar’ on and on the Met Éireann app, for the South and the West of Ireland. This is because the radar image will show combined information from the weather radar at Dublin Airport, the temporary one in Co. Cork and two UK Met Office weather radars in Belfast and Wales, when available.


The upgrade

The current Shannon weather radar is a C-band single-polarisation radar, which was installed in 1996 and upgraded in 2010. It uses a radar pulse with a wavelength of 5.6cm. This wavelength is suited to operation in Ireland, as it is sensitive enough to detect light rain and drizzle (common forms of precipitation).

The new Shannon radar to be installed in Shannon Airport will be dual-polarisation. Dual-polarisation weather radars involve cutting-edge technology and software with the ability to discern between types of precipitation like rain, heavy rain, snow and sleet. They also have better performance than single polarisation radars in discerning precipitation from objects such as buildings or birds.

Sarah Gallagher, head of the observations division in Met Éireann, said: “As part of our continual improvement, Met Éireann looks forward to delivering this state-of-the-art weather radar that will serve the south-west and national public for many years to come with high quality precipitation observations. Ireland’s weather radar data is fundamental to the provision of accurate forecasts and weather warnings, supporting emergency management and the protection of life and property”.

Image: Met Éireann