Another NWS Radar Fails -- Big Time -- When Crucially Needed

This failure of a primary weather radar occurred today
at NWS Rapid City.
This will take days to repair. Meanwhile, part of the Rapid City NWS's county warning area is under a blizzard warning (orange). The Aberdeen NWS office, which relies on Rapid City's radar for the far southwest part of their warning area is dealing with an ice storm warning (purple). Map from 9:30pm Central Standard Time.

Simultaneously, the FAA's Terminal Doppler Weather Radar at West Palm Beach -- the closest radar to the eye of Hurricane Nicole -- is down. 
The red highlight around TPBI means 
the radar is not operating.
It failed 13 hours ago and is inoperable "until further notice."

And, in the Northeast, which may experience flooding rains from the remains of Hurricane Nicole, the Boston NWS radar is out "until further notice."

Because the radars are 30 years old, they are failing at an increasing rate in spite of the NWS's attempts to refurbish the network. 

This problem would not be nearly as acute if, in 2020, the NWS had not rejected Congress when it wanted to fund a network of gap-filler radars

Five nights ago, on November 4, strong and violent tornadoes moved through the worst of the U.S.'s radar gaps (arrow); please see gap map I prepared at the request of a congressional committee below.
Three people died and 24 were injured. 

One benefit of installing ~20 gap-filler radars, is that they would overlap into areas where and when primary network radars fail. 

You can learn much more about the radar reliability problem here (bottom half of article).

With congress turning over again in January (as it did two months after the NWS said "we don't need gap-fillers"), I don't see a solution anytime soon. With all the new members of Congress, it will take a while to educate the new members as to the issue and its solutions. 

One would think that, with its primary radars three decades old, the NWS would have a detailed plan to replace those radars. It does not. There is a battle of two types of technology (phased-array versus rotating antenna) and, I suspect, considerably lobbying by potential manufacturers. The NWS also has a terrible, "if we didn't invent it, we don't want it" culture. 

Without the NWS and NOAA firmly behind a plan, Congress is not going to move; especially since the last time it tried to do so, it was turned down.

What a mess!


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