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U.S. National Weather Service Tampa Bay Radar Overhaul

The National Weather Service Tampa Bay Area Weather Forecast Office is currently undergoing a major radar overhaul. As part of the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), our radar has been disassembled in order to perform critical maintenance work to ensure the radar continues to function well into the 2030s.

For the first time since the radar was assembled nearly 25 years ago, the radome (white housing sometimes referred to as a “golf ball”) had to be removed in order to perform a complete refurbishment and replacement of the radar’s pedestal assembly. The majority of weather service radars were commissioned in the early-to-mid 1990s, and have now reached their original end-of-life. This critical maintenance will now extend the radar lifetime by another 20 years or more.

Our radar overhaul is part of a larger project to replace all Weather Service radars now reaching their end-of-life over the next 5 years, with the option to extend if needed. The work is expected to be completed by the end of the week on January 17th. The Tampa Bay radar is one of 159 operational radars. The Radar Operations Center in Norman, Oklahoma provides lifecycle management and support for all Weather Service radars.

Along with the United States Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) NWS are contributing a total of $135 million to the larger program expected to be completed in 2023. The first step was to install a new signal processor, which was completed prior to the pedestal refurbishment and replacement.

The process of overhauling the radar has been well-coordinated to ensure the best possible weather is in place while the work is done. While our radar is down, other radars in the area remain operational, including the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) at Tampa International, along with other Weather Service radar’s in Jacksonville, Melbourne, and Miami.
WSR-88d Dome Removal

Want to know more about SLEP? Check out this cool video: