WATKINS, Colo — After the March 13 bomb cyclone canceled plans to service Denver's radar, it's finally getting done.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has 159 Doppler radars across the country. A maintenance program is underway that will refurbish all those sites at varying schedules.
The one that covers all of northeast Colorado is located just east of Denver International Airport, in Watkins.
That radar data was critical to meteorologists during the bomb cyclone, and it emphasized the need to have all the parts running smoothly when they are needed.
"We couldn't afford to let that radar go," said Michael Gonzales, an electronics technician with NWS. "It was coming in, and it was coming in hard. Our weather forecasters just needed that data."
Most of the work will be replacing all the wiring, cables, and connectors. The antenna, the dome, the tower and the transmitter were all in good shape, but the NWS said those parts will also be replaced in the next couple of years.
Once this maintenance is completed on all 159 radar sites, they are expected to be viable into the 2030s.
This data is used by the local television stations in Denver, and also is what shows up on all your favorite weather radar phone apps.
During outages like this, the other radar sites in our area fill in the gaps. There is one in Pueblo, Goodland, Cheyenne and on the Grand Mesa on the Western Slope. There is also another low-power radar near Denver that helps fill in data gaps.
The information these other radars provide for the Denver area is inferior, but acceptable when there is no major storm. Most phone apps will automatically switch to the next closest radar when the local site is down.
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