(Gillette, Wyo.) The weather radar in Rapid City, SD, which is one of the transmitters that serves Campbell County, was shut down on Monday for upgrades.
Crews are replacing old breakers and cables, which are the originals from when the radar was built 20 years ago, with modern fuses and new cables. The function of the transmitter will remain the same, but the work will help keep the radar working smoothly for another 20 years.
They expect to accomplish the upgrade by Saturday.
In the meantime, the National Weather Service can still provide forecasting for the area using radars in Cheyenne and Riverton, though Gillette lies at the outer edge of their range.
The radars are most accurate the closer you are to the radar, and even when Rapid City is operational, Gillette is not in the best location for readings.
“Gillette is in a weird zone,” said Rapid City Meteorologist Alzina Foscato.
However, these radars are not the only means by which the National Weather Service makes its forecast. They rely on observations from spotters, satellites, and lightning readings as well.
“Those have helped out a lot,” Foscato said.
The radar update is the second major project of a whole program meant to keep the nation’s radars viable into the 2030s. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service, the Air Force, and the Federal Aviation Administration are investing $150 million into the program. The project is expected to be complete by 2022.
The Rapid City radar is part of a network of 159 operational radars across the nation.