New technology is being tested in the Tokyo metropolitan area which is capable of predicting downpours and tornados 30 minutes in advance. The hope is that the system will prove to be robust enough so that it can provide earlier warnings of inclement weather in the future. The technology relies on broadcasting airwaves to make quick and precise predictions.

The development of this technology was led by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in addition to industry, government, and academic bodies. It uses a new type of weather radar and terrestrial digital radio waves to estimate the amount of water vapor in the air which can become rain. The idea is to have this technology in practical use before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo so that smooth operation of the event can be ensured.

According to the developers, the new multi parameter phased array weather radar can predict torrential rain and tornados up to 30 minutes before they occur. That’s due to the flat antenna which emits radio waves over a wider range in contrast to the rotating bowl-shaped antennas that are used in conventional radars.

Terrestrial radio waves are used with this radar to estimate the amount of water vapor to further improve the accuracy of the predictions. The first experiments with this technology started last year. “We hope to put the technology, directly linked to the lives of people, into practical use as soon as possible,” said one official of the NICT.

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