Print Version

Home   News   Sports   Social   Obituaries   Events   Letters
Spokane weather radar to get upgrade
October 27, 2017
The weather radar used by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Spokane, which provides coverage to an area including Boundary County, will be down for approximately five days beginning October 30 for technicians to install an important technological upgrade.

The work on the WSR-88D has been scheduled to minimize any potential impacts to office operations.

During the outage, radar coverage is available from adjacent radar sites including Seattle, Pendleton and Missoula.

A crew will install a new signal processor, which replaces obsolete technology, improves processing speed and data quality, provides added functionality, and supports IT security.

Nexrad (Next-Generation Radar) is a network of 159 high-resolution S-band Doppler weather radars operated by the National Weather Service. Its technical name, WSR-88D, stands for Weather Surveillance Radar, 1988, Doppler.

Nexrad detects precipitation and atmospheric movement or wind. It returns data which when processed can be displayed in a mosaic map which shows patterns of precipitation and its movement. The radar system operates in two basic modes, selectable by the operator – a slow-scanning clear-air mode for analyzing air movements when there is little or no activity in the area, and a precipitation mode, with a faster scan for tracking active weather. NEXRAD has an increased emphasis on automation, including the use of algorithms and automated volume scans.

Installation of an operational prototype was completed in the fall of 1990 in Norman, Oklahoma. The first installation of a WSR-88D for operational use in everyday forecasting was in Sterling, Virginia, on June 12, 1992. The last system deployed as part of this installation campaign was installed in North Webster, Indiana, on August 30, 1997. In 2011, a single new radar was added at Langley Hill, Washington, to better cover the Pacific Coast.

This is the first of four major upgrades, known as service life extension projects, planned over the next five years to replace and refurbish major components of the 20 year old WSR-88Ds and to keep the radars operational into the 2030s. The $150-million investment is being made by the three organizations that use these radars, the NOAA National Weather Service, the United States Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The other service life extension projects include refurbishing the transmitter, pedestal and equipment shelters.
 Questions or comments about this article? Click here to e-mail!