Des Moines radar site slated for major upgrade

Local News

The Des Moines radar site’s radome is lifted by a crane during the original construction process.
(Courtesy: NWS Des Moines)

The National Weather Service in Des Moines will be out of operation for two weeks in December.

The radar site, located in Johnston, is scheduled to undergo a major upgrade beginning on Monday, December 2nd.

The National Weather Service says technicians will refurbish and replace the pedestal, which is a necessary component of the radar for efficient antenna rotation and positioning to capture data in all directions.

A similar upgrade was just completed at the radar site in Omaha, Nebraska.

Technicians say the components are extremely heavy and the upgrade will require the radome to be removed by crane and replaced once the work is completed.

National Weather Service meteorologists say the radar and pedestal were designed to last 25 years, and the radar site in Des Moines has exceeded its lifespan.

Meteorologists say this activity is necessary to keep the radar functioning for another 20 years or more.

The pedestal refurbishment is the third major project of the NEXRAD Service Life Extension Program, a series of upgrades that will keep our nation’s radars viable into the 2030s.

NOAA’s National Weather Service, the United States Air Force, and the Federal Aviation Administration are investing $135 million in the eight year program.

The first project was the installation of the new signal processor and the second project was the refurbishment of the transmitter. The fourth project will be the refurbishment of the equipment shelters. The Service Life Extension Program will be complete in 2023.

During the downtime, adjacent radar sites will be available, including Minneapolis, MN, LaCrosse, WI, Davenport, IA, Omaha, NE, Kansas City, MO, and Sioux Falls, SD.

As a reminder, you can always get interactive radar by downloading our free WeAreIowa app. You can do so here:

Download the We Are Iowa app in the App Store or Google Play Store

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