National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Radar images will not be available for three weeks


The Rapid City National Weather Service’s WSR-88D Doppler Radar began a major hardware upgrade November 27. The radar will be shut down for approximately three weeks while technicians replace the pedestal, the stand which rotates and positions the antenna. After the antenna is taken apart, the radar dome and pedestal will be removed by a crane. The new pedestal will then be lifted onto the deck, the dome replaced, and the antenna reassembled.

Once the project is started, the radar cannot be turned on again. This work was scheduled to reduce the impact on our forecasts since the area typically doesn’t have many storms this time of year. Forecasters can monitor winter storms with other systems, such as satellite and ground station data.

During the work; images from the Bismarck, ND; Aberdeen, SD; North Platte, NE; and Cheyenne, WY NWS radars will be available at images are available at

The radar and pedestal were designed to last 25 years, so this work will keep the radar functioning for at least another 20 years. The Rapid City radar was installed in 1995.

The pedestal replacement 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. 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 eight-year Service Life Extension Program will be complete in 2023.

The Rapid City WSR-88D is part of a network of 159 operational radars. The Radar Operations Center in Norman, Oklahoma, provides lifecycle management and support for all WSR-88Ds.

The pictures below show the dome being removed on December 6, 2018.

A crane reaches up to grab the radar dome The crane gently lowers the dome