Just in time before a significant weather event that is forecast to bring flooding rains to the Mid Atlantic arrives, the National Weather Service has announced that a key RADAR system is back up and running. According to the Mount Holly, New Jersey of the National Weather Service, the RADAR unit responsible for scanning the skies around Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York City is now back on-line after being off-line since April 20 due to an overhaul and upgrade.
According to the National Weather Service, technicians refurbished and replaced the pedestal, one of the most critical components of the RADAR, which is necessary for antenna rotation and positioning to capture data in all directions. The components are extremely heavy and required the radome to be removed by crane and replaced. The RADAR and pedestal were designed to last 25 years; according to the Mount Holly NWS Office, this system has exceeded that lifespan. By taking the unit off-line since April 20 to allow for this upgrade, the RADAR should continue to function for 20+ more years.
The pedestal refurbishment is the third major project of the NEXRAD Service Life Extension Program, a series of upgrades that will keep RADAR systems viable into the 2030s. NOAA’s
National Weather Service, the United States Air Force, and the Federal Aviation Administration are investing $135 million in the eight year upgrade program. The first project was the installation of the new signal processor and the second project was the refurbishment of the transmitter. The fourth project will be the refurbishment of the equipment shelters. The Service Life Extension Program will be complete in 2023.
According to NOAA, in addition to the 122 NWS-owned radars, the full nationwide RADAR network includes another 37 radar sites owned by the FAA and Defense Department. NOAA’s NEXRAD radar program is a tri-agency effort with NOAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the United States Air Force.
During the downtime of the New Jersey unit, adjacent radars were available, including: KDOX at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, KOKX managed by the New York City office of the National Weather Service, KBGM managed by the Binghamton office of the National Weather Service in New York, KCCX managed by the State College office of the National Weather Service in Pennsylvania, and KLWX which is managed by the Sterling, Virginia office of the National Weather Service. These weather service RADARs are supplemented with Terminal Doppler radars at airports at Philadelphia International, Newark Liberty, and Baltimore’s BWI. These other RADARs were helpful in a severe weather event that unfolded last week, including one storm which dropped a tornado at the Jersey Shore.