By Don Ford

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A new, highly specialized radar atop the Santa Clara Valley Water building will help officials make decisions during major storms.

It’s called the Advanced Quantitative Precipitation Information System, or AQPI for short. Unlike the National Weather Radar we see on TV, the AQPI scans only from the ground to 3,000 feet, showing in great detail exactly where and how much rain is coming down.

“This project is aiming to track water from the time it falls out of the sky, hits the ground, runs into the streams and makes its way into the bay,” said Robert Cifell, AQPI Project Director and NOAA Physical Sciences Scientist.

Flooding in San Jose is nothing new, but knowing where to deploy resources, when to open or close flood gates in real time emergencies will help water managers and first responders during emergencies.

It is the first of four radar installations scheduled for the Bay Area–the Peninsula, the East Bay and the North Bay will also get radars.

“This radar system has a really good potential of actually helping to save lives as we go forward,” said Brian Garcia, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

The $20 million system is funded by a grant from the California Department of Water Resources.