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Good Article Explaining The KDIX WSR-88D Outage


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https://pinebarrenstribune.com/special-crews-arrive-from-oklahoma-to-repair-fort-dix-radar-after-failure-p2987-165.htm?fbclid=IwAR0f1d7QqA8vKxlvjvqEN460YgNfPe0ruyncMbp7k44PSUts2ECPQl-foDw

By Douglas D. Melegari
Staff Writer 

WHITING—A special team, comprising of a half-dozen technicians from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Radar Operations Center in Norman, Okla., arrived near the edge of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest Wednesday to begin repairing the National Weather Service’s Fort Dix Doppler radar after it suffered a “significant equipment failure” earlier this month. 

The Whiting-based radar, which is primarily relied upon by the National Weather Service to warn of severe weather impacting the Delaware Valley, and utilized by several weather forecasting agencies throughout the region, “stopped working altogether” on May 1, according to National Weather Service Mount Holly/Philadelphia Warning Coordination Meteorologist Joe Miketta. Prior to May 1, he said the radar had been experiencing intermittent outages. 

“The bull gear wore out,” he said. “Basically, when that part wore out, the radar could not turn anymore. 

“When the bull gear starts to go, it is like a car, there can be a lot of different things that begin to not run right. So, you fix one thing, and it works for a little while, and then eventually it wears out so much it stops working altogether. It takes time to diagnose these things.”

Miketta described in a Tuesday interview with this newspaper that the bull gear is one of the most difficult parts to replace inside the Doppler radar’s dome, which is commonly described as a golf ball by meteorologists due to its white, spherical appearance. 

“They are going to have to lift the 4,000 lb. radar dish assembly off its pedestal inside the dome, leaving about two feet of space for the crews to work, to switch out the bull gear with a new one,” he said. “That the furthest they can lift it inside the dome—and someone will have to crawl underneath the raised radar dish to put the new gear in.”

The warning coordination meteorologist added that specially designed hydraulic jacks will be used inside the dome in order to lift the radar dish off its pedestal. 

“There is a very short clearance between the top of the radar dish and dome,” Miketta said. “So, two feet is about the maximum clearance available between the lifted radar dish and the bull gear that turns it. They then have to clean out all of the metal shavings from the worn bull gear before replacing it with the new one.” 

Miketta described to this newspaper that removing the dome, or the outside covering for the radar and its parts, is not a viable option at this time to make the repair, as disassembling it requires an exterior crane and even more work. 

“What they will be doing now is a fairly involved process,” he said. 

“Basically, they have to lift the radar dish off the pedestal, repair the gear underneath it, and put the radar dish back down. It can take a week to do this.” 

It is currently estimated that the repair won’t be completed until May 23 or May 24. Miketta recalled Tuesday only two other times in the last two decades that the radar was down for such an extended period of time. 

One such occasion occurred in 2007, and it was for exactly the same reason. 

“When they did this repair back in 2007, they lifted the pedestal off the bull gear, and there was only a small space to get in and fix it,” Miketta said. 

 
“There were six or seven people who came to work on it, the same number of people who arrived Wednesday to make this repair.”


The area, while repairs are being made to the Fort Dix radar, has not been left without radar coverage, though Miketta told this newspaper that “obviously, it would be good to have the Fort Dix radar working” and that the radar is “essential to its operations.”

“There are places that weather can be better seen with the Fort Dix radar due to the curvature of the Earth,” he said. 

The National Weather Service Mount Holly/Philadelphia office, which provides weather forecasts and severe weather warnings for most of New Jersey (except the northeast corner of the state), Eastern Pennsylvania (except its far northeast corner) and Delaware, has a second radar in its territory, located south of Dover, Del., that it has been relying on during the outage. Additionally, there are several major airports in the area with terminal Doppler radars, which the agency has access to. 

“We are lucky because we have another radar in our service area, WSR 88-D, associated with the Dover Air Force Base,” he said. “That radar is located in Sussex County, Del., and we have it at our disposal, at all times. 

There is also the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) terminal Doppler radar in Camden County (for Philadelphia International Airport) that we have access to. Then we have the other National Weather Service radars around us. We can still see things (precipitation and storms) and we are able to continue to operate.” 

As an added precaution since the Fort Dix radar went offline, Miketta said the agency has been using a total observation concept to make severe weather-warning decisions.

“We know when a storm is moving into our county warning area (counties in which the office forecasts and warns for), whether it is moving into an environment where it is going to decrease or increase in intensity,” he said. 

“We also have a lot of other tools in our arsenal that we can use, including the new weather satellite launched in 2016 known as GOES-EAST.”

Occasionally, the Delaware-based radar has also failed. Miketta said that if both radars should fail simultaneously, the agency is prepared to use National Weather Service radars positioned further away by running their long-range mode applications, which can detect precipitation outwards of to up to 200 miles. 

“If that happens, we are not running totally blind,” Miketta said. “The benefit of living in the Northeast is that we have active airports and they have radars we have access to, including Newark (NJ) and Dulles (northern VA). These radars can be used. We have other radars that we can use to fill in the gaps.”

In Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria devasted the island in 2017 and destroyed two Doppler radars, one belonging to the National Weather Service and the other belonging to the FAA, the Department of Defense deployed two, temporary mobile short-range radars until permanent ones were repaired. 

Miketta said deploying temporary mobile short-range radars is unnecessary in this local case because of the adjoining radars which fill in the gaps in coverage due to the Fort Dix radar failure.

The warning coordination meteorologist noted that the Fort Dix radar, put in operation in 1993, has aged to the point where it will require more extensive repairs next year. He said the radar will go down for scheduled maintenance in March, for “about two or three weeks,” as part of the agency’s Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). He noted that the bull gear will not be replaced again, but other parts will be, and the dome will be removed for the repair of the other parts. 

“The radar has been in operation for 25 years and it is aging,” he said. “We need to maintain the parts to keep it running. A radar has mechanical devices which do break down every once in a while. It is like a washing machine, it works for a time, but there are moving parts that eventually wear out and cause it to stop working until those parts are replaced.” 

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16 minutes ago, Rainshadow said:

https://pinebarrenstribune.com/special-crews-arrive-from-oklahoma-to-repair-fort-dix-radar-after-failure-p2987-165.htm?fbclid=IwAR0f1d7QqA8vKxlvjvqEN460YgNfPe0ruyncMbp7k44PSUts2ECPQl-foDw

By Douglas D. Melegari
Staff Writer 

WHITING—A special team, comprising of a half-dozen technicians from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Radar Operations Center in Norman, Okla., arrived near the edge of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest Wednesday to begin repairing the National Weather Service’s Fort Dix Doppler radar after it suffered a “significant equipment failure” earlier this month. 

The Whiting-based radar, which is primarily relied upon by the National Weather Service to warn of severe weather impacting the Delaware Valley, and utilized by several weather forecasting agencies throughout the region, “stopped working altogether” on May 1, according to National Weather Service Mount Holly/Philadelphia Warning Coordination Meteorologist Joe Miketta. Prior to May 1, he said the radar had been experiencing intermittent outages. 

“The bull gear wore out,” he said. “Basically, when that part wore out, the radar could not turn anymore. 

“When the bull gear starts to go, it is like a car, there can be a lot of different things that begin to not run right. So, you fix one thing, and it works for a little while, and then eventually it wears out so much it stops working altogether. It takes time to diagnose these things.”

Miketta described in a Tuesday interview with this newspaper that the bull gear is one of the most difficult parts to replace inside the Doppler radar’s dome, which is commonly described as a golf ball by meteorologists due to its white, spherical appearance. 

“They are going to have to lift the 4,000 lb. radar dish assembly off its pedestal inside the dome, leaving about two feet of space for the crews to work, to switch out the bull gear with a new one,” he said. “That the furthest they can lift it inside the dome—and someone will have to crawl underneath the raised radar dish to put the new gear in.”

The warning coordination meteorologist added that specially designed hydraulic jacks will be used inside the dome in order to lift the radar dish off its pedestal. 

“There is a very short clearance between the top of the radar dish and dome,” Miketta said. “So, two feet is about the maximum clearance available between the lifted radar dish and the bull gear that turns it. They then have to clean out all of the metal shavings from the worn bull gear before replacing it with the new one.” 

Miketta described to this newspaper that removing the dome, or the outside covering for the radar and its parts, is not a viable option at this time to make the repair, as disassembling it requires an exterior crane and even more work. 

“What they will be doing now is a fairly involved process,” he said. 

“Basically, they have to lift the radar dish off the pedestal, repair the gear underneath it, and put the radar dish back down. It can take a week to do this.” 

It is currently estimated that the repair won’t be completed until May 23 or May 24. Miketta recalled Tuesday only two other times in the last two decades that the radar was down for such an extended period of time. 

One such occasion occurred in 2007, and it was for exactly the same reason. 

“When they did this repair back in 2007, they lifted the pedestal off the bull gear, and there was only a small space to get in and fix it,” Miketta said. 

 
“There were six or seven people who came to work on it, the same number of people who arrived Wednesday to make this repair.”


The area, while repairs are being made to the Fort Dix radar, has not been left without radar coverage, though Miketta told this newspaper that “obviously, it would be good to have the Fort Dix radar working” and that the radar is “essential to its operations.”

“There are places that weather can be better seen with the Fort Dix radar due to the curvature of the Earth,” he said. 

The National Weather Service Mount Holly/Philadelphia office, which provides weather forecasts and severe weather warnings for most of New Jersey (except the northeast corner of the state), Eastern Pennsylvania (except its far northeast corner) and Delaware, has a second radar in its territory, located south of Dover, Del., that it has been relying on during the outage. Additionally, there are several major airports in the area with terminal Doppler radars, which the agency has access to. 

“We are lucky because we have another radar in our service area, WSR 88-D, associated with the Dover Air Force Base,” he said. “That radar is located in Sussex County, Del., and we have it at our disposal, at all times. 

There is also the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) terminal Doppler radar in Camden County (for Philadelphia International Airport) that we have access to. Then we have the other National Weather Service radars around us. We can still see things (precipitation and storms) and we are able to continue to operate.” 

As an added precaution since the Fort Dix radar went offline, Miketta said the agency has been using a total observation concept to make severe weather-warning decisions.

“We know when a storm is moving into our county warning area (counties in which the office forecasts and warns for), whether it is moving into an environment where it is going to decrease or increase in intensity,” he said. 

“We also have a lot of other tools in our arsenal that we can use, including the new weather satellite launched in 2016 known as GOES-EAST.”

Occasionally, the Delaware-based radar has also failed. Miketta said that if both radars should fail simultaneously, the agency is prepared to use National Weather Service radars positioned further away by running their long-range mode applications, which can detect precipitation outwards of to up to 200 miles. 

“If that happens, we are not running totally blind,” Miketta said. “The benefit of living in the Northeast is that we have active airports and they have radars we have access to, including Newark (NJ) and Dulles (northern VA). These radars can be used. We have other radars that we can use to fill in the gaps.”

In Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria devasted the island in 2017 and destroyed two Doppler radars, one belonging to the National Weather Service and the other belonging to the FAA, the Department of Defense deployed two, temporary mobile short-range radars until permanent ones were repaired. 

Miketta said deploying temporary mobile short-range radars is unnecessary in this local case because of the adjoining radars which fill in the gaps in coverage due to the Fort Dix radar failure.

The warning coordination meteorologist noted that the Fort Dix radar, put in operation in 1993, has aged to the point where it will require more extensive repairs next year. He said the radar will go down for scheduled maintenance in March, for “about two or three weeks,” as part of the agency’s Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). He noted that the bull gear will not be replaced again, but other parts will be, and the dome will be removed for the repair of the other parts. 

“The radar has been in operation for 25 years and it is aging,” he said. “We need to maintain the parts to keep it running. A radar has mechanical devices which do break down every once in a while. It is like a washing machine, it works for a time, but there are moving parts that eventually wear out and cause it to stop working until those parts are replaced.” 

 

 

Great explanation and hope they can safely make the repair. 

 

 

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