Page last updated at 07:14 GMT, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 08:14 UK

Flood alert radar site goes live

Weather radar station
The cream ball is made from fibre glass with a foam centre

A £1m weather radar station to help protect the north-east of England against flooding is now operating.

The golf ball-like structure is mounted on an 11m (36ft) steel tower at High Moorsley, near Sunderland.

It will provide Northumbrian Water, the Met Office and the Environment Agency with data about rainfall.

The station fills a gap in England's weather radar station network and will give information on how heavy rain is, and which direction it is moving in.

Northumbrian Water climate change manager David Chapman said: "It is a great step forward for us and for the region because it helps us reduce the risk of flooding in terms of the way we prioritise work and of course it's helpful for the weather forecasters more generally."

The 6.2m (20ft) diameter cream ball is made from fibre glass with a foam centre.

The station sends signals off and listens for the echo reflecting off raindrops to record where, when, how hard it is raining and which direction it is moving in.

The equipment reads 25,000 1km grid locations every five minutes and provides up to seven million readings a day from across the North East.

Mr Chapman said the information would be used to warn people about potential flooding and ensure there were teams ready to deal with any problems.

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