Twin Cities NWS upgrades Doppler radar next week

The Twin Cities NWS Doppler radar will be out of service for a few days next week. The downtime is part of an upgrade for 20-year old signal processing technology.

The weather radar used by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Chanhassen will be down for approximately three days beginning Monday, October 16th for technicians to install an important technological upgrade. The radar is expected to be back in service by the end of the day on Wednesday, October 18th

This is the first of four major upgrades, known as service life extension projects (SLEP), planned in 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.

This current upgrade is Phase 1, which involves installing a new signal processor.

The signal processor is the “brains” of the radar. This piece of equipment is necessary to collect and process the data.

The hardware being replaced is more than 20 years old, obsolete, and some pieces are no longer supported by the manufacturer after 2017.

This upgrade will result in faster and more precise data processing, paving the way for new radar technologies and algorithms in future software builds.

This signal processor upgrade is approximately $55,000 per site, while the entire SLEP program consisting of 4 major projects has a grand total of approximately $150M.

The $150M investment is being made by the three organizations that use these radars, the NOAA National Weather Service, United States Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration.