BUFFALO – Western New York’s primary Doppler radar will be going offline starting Thursday for around one week while upgrades are performed.
The 750,000-Watt Doppler weather radar operated by the National Weather Service at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport is the primary way the First Defense Weather team monitors precipitation. Whether that’s rain, snow, ice or anything in between, we can see weather from quite a distance. There are 159 other radar sites around the county; labeled as the ‘NEXRAD’ network (Next Generation Radar).
However, many of these radars are approaching 30 years old and are in need of upgrades to keep them running in tip-top shape. A few years ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissioned a $150 million project called the ‘Service Life Extension Program’; a several-phase project meant to upgrade or replace certain key components within the radar to keep them working for another 10 or so years.
The Buffalo radar has already received a new signal processor as apart of Phase I and and refurbished transmitter in Phase II. Now the time has come to start Phase III which includes the replacement of the generator, fuel tanks, and related components. The work should take around one week to complete.
During the outage period, adjacent NWS Doppler radars located in Cleveland, Ohio, State College, Pennsylvania, and Binghamton, New York will provide some coverage to our area due to the radar beams overlapping with each other.
The other two phases of the Service Life Extension Program includes refurbishment of the radar pedestal and equipment shelters with NOAA expecting the program to be complete nationwide by the end of 2023.