LINCOLN, Ill. (WCIA) – The radar at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Lincoln is down and will stay that way for about two weeks.
Its pedestal, the piece that allows the radar to turn and to collect data from all directions, is being replaced.
“It’s gone under a lot of usage,” Ed Shimon, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the NWS, said. “It’s got a 20 year life cycle, so that’s the part of the radar that we’re working on to replace right now, to give it a service life extension of another, maybe 15, possibly even 20 years of use of this radar.”
The radar serves an important role for the NWS in severe weather situations.
“We’ll use the radar information to discern whether hazardous weather is about to occur anywhere, and then we use it to issue our warnings that we use for severe weather and even winter weather,” Shimon said.
In the meantime, the NWS is relying on radars from surrounding areas if they need to put out any warnings including Chicago, the Quad Cities, Indianapolis, Evansville, and St. Louis.
“We know how to operate if the radar is not functioning at that local site,” Shimon said. “We’ve been through this before with other upgrades so we have the skills that we need to use the other radars and what products to use to keep our warning program functioning smoothly.”
WCIA 3 Meteorologist Seth Bohnhoff said the radar in Lincoln being down for the time being could create some challenges.
“But it’s not any major concern, particularly because of the forecast that’s ahead,” Bohnhoff said. “Now, if we had severe storms expected, that’d be the kind of thing where we’d kind of be sweating a little bit. Because we need to get people information on exactly where it’s happening, and that can only be done if you have that closest radar in operation.”
Bohnhoff said it could also create confusion for people who are trying to keep up with the weather forecast.
“There’s going to be weird-looking radar images,” Bohnhoff said. “You might have a big area where you see yellow or maybe even red on the radar, and then in between two spots of yellow is just going to be this big blob of really light green. So it’s like, ‘Oh, so it’s just raining really lightly here at the moment.’ Well, it’s not necessarily the case, because all of a sudden, we don’t have a radar at the ground to tell us what’s going on.”