Upgrade to NWS radar system underway


WILMINGTON — The National Weather Service has announced a temporary radar outage as part of a major upgrade to the Wilmington, OH WSR-88D radar system. This significant maintenance effort, which began on Sept. 11, will require the radar to be offline for approximately two weeks, according to officials.

One of the crucial steps in this upgrade process involves the refurbishment and replacement of the radar’s pedestal, a critical component responsible for antenna rotation and positioning to capture weather data from all directions. Due to the considerable weight of these components, the radar dome had to be temporarily removed by crane. It will be replaced once the refurbishment work is completed.

The Wilmington, OH radar, operated by NOAA’s National Weather Service, was originally designed to function for 25 years. However, it has already exceeded this lifespan. The current upgrade is necessary to ensure that the radar and pedestal can continue to operate effectively for another 20 years or more, NWS officials said.

This pedestal refurbishment represents the final major project of the NEXRAD (Next Generation Weather Radar) Service Life Extension Program. This program, spanning eight years, includes a series of critical upgrades to maintain the nation’s radar systems’ viability through the 2030s.

A total investment of $135 million from NOAA’s National Weather Service, the United States Air Force, and the Federal Aviation Administration has supported these efforts. The previous projects included the installation of a new signal processor, refurbishment of the transmitter, and equipment shelters.

The Service Life Extension Program is on track to be completed in 2023, ensuring that the radar systems remain state-of-the-art and capable of providing vital weather data.

During this temporary radar downtime, weather data from adjacent radar sites will be available. These sites include Fort Wayne/Northern Indiana, Indianapolis, IN; Louisville, KY; Jackson, KY; Charleston, WV; Pittsburgh, PA, and Cleveland, OH. Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Terminal Doppler Weather Radars (TDWRs) near Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus, can be used for weather detection and surveillance.

For access to any of these surrounding radar sites, those interested can visit the following web page: [https://radar.weather.gov]. Users can select a single radar site by going to the “Select View” menu option and then clicking on “Local Radar.”

The Wilmington, OH WSR-88D radar is part of a network of 159 operational radars nationwide. The Radar Operations Center in Norman, Oklahoma, is responsible for providing life-cycle management and support for all WSR-88D radars across the country.

While the temporary radar outage may cause some inconvenience, this crucial upgrade ensures that the Wilmington radar system will continue to provide accurate and reliable weather information, contributing to the safety and well-being of the local community and beyond, according to officials.

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