What is a First Alert Severe Weather Day?

When severe weather threatens, WKYT and the 27 FirstAlert Weather team will keep you and your family in the know before, during, and after the storm.

By declaring a “27 FirstAlert Severe Weather Day,” WKYT will let you know that potentially severe, life-threatening weather is on its way. The icon on the bottom of your screen and announcements on the air are your cue to stay with the 27 FirstAlert Weather team for elevated coverage on air, online, and via mobile devices.

“The reason that we’re doing this is to be proactive instead of being reactive,” said WKYT chief meteorologist T.G. Shuck. “We want to keep viewers at home safe.”

One of WKYT’s tools to do keep viewers safe is the “FirstAlert Defender” dual polarity radar which is the most important, lifesaving advancement in weather technology and forecasting ever in Kentucky. The "FirstAlert Defender" is the most technologically advanced and three times more powerful than any other live Doppler radar scanning the skies over central and eastern Kentucky.

Through a partnership with Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, the 1,000,000-watt “FirstAlert Defender” was built in 2009 and allows WKYT's meteorologists to detect, analyze, depict and warn of more kinds of dangerous weather than any other radar system. The “FirstAlert Defender” is not only the most advanced live Doppler radar in Kentucky but also among the most advanced in the world.

Traditional single polarity radar tells only a fraction of the weather story. The “FirstAlert 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 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, “FirstAlert 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 “FirstAlert 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 “FirstAlert 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.
Viewers can take control of WKYT’s “FirstAlert Defender” on their mobile devices through various apps. The “WKYT Weather” app for iPads was the first such app for a Kentucky television station and is available in the iTunes app store.

“It’s a whole new way for our viewers to see the weather,” said Shuck. “Through the interactive mapping, you can zoom into your neighborhood and see the weather unfold. It’s also a great place to see the latest forecasts and even watch video versions of WKYT’s weather updates.”

The “WKYT Weather” app includes comprehensive weather information for 10,000 forecast points in the continental United States and 50,000 sites around the globe to provide the most accurate local forecasts.

Other features of the “WKYT Weather” iPad app include weather information for current and saved locations; an interactive display of the WKYT First Alert Defender; national composite radars, satellite images, road weather index and wind speeds displayed over an interactive map; current condition updates; 10-day and hourly forecasts; severe weather warnings, watches, and advisories; hurricane and storm tracking; earthquake locations; and video of updates with WKYT’s team of meteorologists.


2851 Winchester Rd. Lexington, Ky 40509 859-299-0411 - switchboard 859-299-2727 - newsroom
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