Severe weather swept through Texas last Sunday, bringing with it strong straight line winds and brief tornadoes.
These storms also left behind a trail of destruction.
Meteorologists use local radar sites to detect these storms and determine the severity of them. But what happens when one of those sites stops working?
“A part involving what we call a pedestal, controlling a lot of what the radar does, went down. A piece malfunctioned on Sunday, and unfortunately that required a replacement part,” says Joey Picca, of the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
This is exactly what happened in Texas last Sunday.
“While, of course, these are very complex pieces of machinery with lots of moving parts, things do break on occasion. It’s relatively rare that we have to deal with these issues, especially during these higher-impact events,” Picca says.
When this happens, the National Weather Service recommends local meteorologists utilize the other surrounding radar sites.
“You have to start plugging in whole, basically surrounding radar data with this other observational data. Like satellites. Also, just what the environment is telling in the forecast in terms of your local observations, wind speeds, humidity, and temperatures. Things like that,” Picca says.
There is good news for the next round of severe weather. The new part is on its way!
And as for the radar, Picca says, ”The radar is back up and running as of this morning because of a restart that was actually unrelated. However, this part does still need to be replaced since we had that fault with it on Sunday.”