Grand Rapids weather radar out of service

Posted at 4:47 PM, Nov 07, 2016

GRAND RAPIDS — As the headline reads ” Grand Rapids radar is out of service.” This normally wouldn’t be a huge deal, but those of us that depend on the National Weather Service WSR-88D Doppler radar will not see it back in service until Thursday this week.

The 88D stands for the year in which it was incorporated, 1988, and the D is for Doppler. WSR is an acronym for Weather Surveillance Radar. As one might expect, technology has been changing by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. That said, this outage in Grand Rapids is specifically for the installation and/or upgrade to the signal processor. The upgrade is part of the NWS service life extension program which will take them in to the future.

It will take about three days or so to install the equipment and complete the upgrade. The photo attached to this story is from the NWS Weather Service office just off the Gerald R. Ford airport grounds. Note the big white ball (that looks like a golf ball mounted on a tower) is the actual radome part of the radar. The equipment that sends out the invisible beam and detects precipitation (or hydrometeors as they’re called) rotates inside that dome.

It’s important to note that West Michigan is NOT in the dark with no radar or weather coverage during this outage. There are other nearby NWS radar sites like North Webster Indiana, Chicago, Milwaukee, Gaylord, and Detroit that will overlap and cover our local area this week. In fact, FOX 17 can utilize all of these radars together for a complete and composite image. A second radar outage is planned at the end of November for radome external panel replacement.

While we may have a cold front sweeping through the state on Tuesday, which may generate a few showers, strong/severe weather is not expected. Get the complete forecast at