SYRACUSE, Ind. (WANE) – The National Weather Service Northern Indiana office has announced a radar outage will occur in September for approximately two weeks. The outage is planned to begin on Monday, September 12th.

The outage is due to a major upgrade to the pedestal of the radar. The upgrade is part of the weather service’s Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). The program is designed to extend the life of the radar. The first part of the project replaced the radar’s signal processor. The second part refurbished the radar’s transmitter. The current phase of the program is to replace and refurbish the radar’s pedestal. After this part is completed, eventually the final phase of refurbishing the equipment shelters surrounding the radar will be completed. The entire $135 million program is expected to be completed in 2023 after servicing the 159 operational weather service radars.

The pedestal is responsible for antenna rotation and positioning to capture data in all directions. It has been over 25 years since the pedestal has been replaced, which is longer than the recommended life-span. The goal of replacing the pedestal is to keep the radar functioning for another 20 or more years.

In order to complete this phase of the project, the radome of the radar and the pedestal will need to be removed from the radar and then reinstalled when work on the pedestal is completed. This will require the use of a crane and specific weather conditions. These components are extremely heavy and a wind over 18 mph will halt the removal or reinstallation process. The pedestal itself is around 16 feet tall and weighs approximately 15,000 pounds. Weather permitting, the radome and pedestal will be removed on Friday, September 16th for renovations.

Video of the pedestal replacement project from Pendleton, Oregon, in 2019.

While the radar is down, you will not be able to access radar data that relies on the NWS Northern Indiana radar. During the downtime, other nearby radars that can be used are Indianapolis, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Wilmington, and Detroit. You can access any of these surrounding radar sites by visiting this link. If you use our WANE Weather App, do not worry. You can still use a national radar that relies on a blend of radars nearby while the Northern Indiana radar is down.

Michael Lewis, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service Northern Indiana office, says the radar being down will not significantly impact their ability to monitor the latest weather conditions and issue weather alerts. They have to maintain their radar and they will rely on data from other radar sites while their radar is down. The office’s purpose is to save lives regardless of where the data comes from. They issue warnings based on the best radar data, the most current spotter information they can get, the partner inputs they get from their local media stations, and emergency managers.

To learn more about the radar outage and the SLEP program, visit this link on the National Weather Service Northern Indiana website.