National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

 

The KFTG WSR-88D Doppler radar operated by the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) in Denver, CO will be down for approximately three weeks for the repair of a major mechanical component.

A team of NWS Denver electronics staff along with support from the Radar Operations Center (ROC) in Norman, Oklahoma, determined this weekend that the bull gear, the primary gear for turning the radar antenna, has failed. This repair will require 12,000 to 15,000 pounds of equipment and a six-person team from the ROC to restore the radar. At this time, the team anticipates repairs being completed over the course of the next three weeks, with an estimated return to service of December 19, 2020.

During the downtime, adjacent supporting radars include: Denver Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDEN), and WSR-88D radars in Cheyenne WY (KCYS), North Platte NE (KLNX), Goodland KS (KGLD), Pueblo CO (KPUX), and Grand Junction CO (KGJX).

 

KFTG WSR-88D located at Colorado Air and Space Port

A team of 6 specially trained technicians from the Radar Operations Center in Norman Oklahoma, along with their equipment, will arrive on December 2. Work is scheduled to begin the next day. The 30 ft diameter radar antenna and its pedestal will have to be lifted off its base to expose the broken gear. The bull gear itself weights about 50 pounds and is 2 feet in diameter. It has never been replaced, and has been in continuous operation since the radar was commissioned in 1994.

Repair technician in the KFTG antenna pedestal

Bull gear shown installed in the antenna pedestal on another radar. A new bull gear.
Bull gear installed in antenna pedestal. New bull gear in box.

 

The Denver, CO WSR-88D is more than 25 years old and part of a network of 159 operational radars. The radars are supported by three federal agencies: NOAA National Weather Service, United States Air Force, and the Federal Aviation Administration. The Radar Operations Center provides lifecycle management and support for all WSR-88Ds.

For a more detailed look at a bull gear replacement check out NWS Binghamton's summary of a similar repair in 2008:  https://www.weather.gov/bgm/eventsBullRing

For a radar mosaic loop for the region go to ‚Äčhttps://radar.weather.gov/ridge/Conus/northrockies.php