WKYT First Alert Defender Radar


First Alert Defender Radar

First Alert Defender History

It's simply the most important, lifesaving advancement in weather technology and forecasting ever in Kentucky. WKYT's new "First Alert Defender" dual polarity radar is the most technologically advanced and three times more powerful than any other live Doppler radar scanning the skies over central and eastern Kentucky.

The 1,000,000-watt "First Alert Defender" allows WKYT's meteorologists to detect, analyze, depict and warn of more kinds of dangerous weather than any other radar system. The "First Alert Defender" is not only the most advanced live Doppler radar in Kentucky but also among the most advanced in the world.

"Through our partnership with Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, the 'First Alert Defender' is setting the new standard in Doppler radar technology," said WKYT President Wayne Martin.

"Kentucky's Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are dedicated to providing power reliably to Kentuckians, and weather conditions such as ice storms, high winds and lightning often affect our ability to do that," said Tony Campbell, President & CEO of East Kentucky Power Cooperative, a Touchstone Energy member. "The viewing areas of WKYT and its sister station WYMT in Hazard fit very well with the areas of Kentucky served by our members, so this partnership will help to provide our members with the best weather information available."


Radar 101
Traditional single polarity radar tells only a fraction of the weather story. The “First Alert Defender’s” twin radar beams examine the atmosphere along a horizontal and vertical axis at the same time.

“The greatest advantage of dual polarity radar is the fact we’ll be getting twice the data input over old-fashioned Doppler radar,” said WKYT chief meteorologist T.G. Shuck. “This state-of-the-art system will benefit viewers year round with any type of weather we experience here in Kentucky. Twice as much information during severe weather can make all the difference in the world during a changing weather situation when every minute, every second counts.” During winter weather, “First Alert Defender’s” technology will allow WKYT’s meteorologists to get a better understanding of where icing may occur which is critical given Kentucky’s history of ice storms in recent years. “That’s a tool no one else has here in the Ohio Valley,” Shuck said.

The benefit of dual polarity radar and its 1,000,000 watts of power set WKYT’s weather forecasting abilities apart.
▪ Track tornadoes as they touch the ground, and follow them, even at night, when eyewitness confirmation is virtually impossible.
▪ In addition to picking up hydrometric features such as water aloft and its movement, the “First Alert Defender” dual polarity Doppler radar can detect storm debris, such as branches, that a tornado may have picked up while on the ground. This gives WKYT’s meteorologists a better indication that the tornado is either on the ground or has been at some point.
▪ Rain, sleet, snow and hail is shown more clearly and accurately. Traditional radar cannot distinguish the difference between these precipitation types.
▪ Get warnings of the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States: flooding rain. Compared to the “First Alert Defender” dual polarity radar, traditional radar is virtually blind to this deadly phenomenon because its single radar beam can quickly become diminished as it attempts to pass through the storm.

Creating Defender
The groundwork for building the “First Alert Defender” dual polarity radar started years ago and all revolves around WKYT’s viewers. “Weather is the one thing that impacts every one, every day,” said WKYT News Director Robert Thomas. “Regardless if it’s clear or severe, we know that central and eastern Kentucky expects WKYT to lead the way in presenting the most accurate and dependable forecasts.”

Next to WKYT’s investment in new technology to become Kentucky’s first local news in high definition in 2007, the “First Alert Defender” dual polarity radar is the station’s second largest financial investment in its more than 50 year history.

The investment is in partnership with Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, which comprise 17 not-for-profit electric cooperatives serving 500,000 Kentucky homes, farms, businesses and industries across 87 counties. The cooperatives have around-the-clock, realtime weather through direct links to storm tracking from “First Alert Defender.” The cooperatives also use the sponsorship as a vehicle to educate Kentuckians about the importance of energy efficiency.

The “First Alert Defender” is a development from WSI and EEC, the engineers, manufacturers and installation team behind the most advanced, dependable, field-proven Doppler radar systems in history. EEC leads the world in engineering and installing weather radar. Wherever there’s a need for powerful, economical, mission-critical radar systems, more customers like the U.S. Department of Defense call on EEC than any other company.

Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives include:


Big Sandy RECC, Paintsville
Blue Grass Energy, Nicholasville
Clark Energy, Winchester
Cumberland Valley Electric, Gray
Farmers RECC, Glasgow
Fleming-Mason Energy, Flemingsburg
Grayson RECC, Grayson
Inter-County Energy, Danville
Jackson Energy, McKee
Licking Valley RECC, West Liberty
Nolin RECC, Elizabethtown
Owen Electric, Owenton
Salt River Electric, Bardstown
Shelby Energy, Shelbyville
South Kentucky Rural Electric, Somerset
Taylor County RECC, Campbellsville
East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Winchester

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