AUSTIN (KXAN) – An hour north of Austin sits one of Central Texas’ main radar weather sites — the KGRK Doppler radar. This radar is used on a daily basis to track precipitation and storms in and around Austin, but for the past two weeks, it has been offline while undergoing much-needed refurbishments.
The KGRK Doppler tower has provided detailed information to Central Texans for nearly three decades but was reaching the end of its lifespan.
Jennifer Dunn, the Warning Coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, says doppler radars are extremely expensive and that a refurbishment is preferred to replacing the device.
In order to extend the radar’s lifespan, one of its most important parts needed to be replaced: the pedestal. “The pedestal is actually what holds the radar antennae, or satellite dish, up. Within that is all the mechanics, the motor, the gears, all of that which helps the radar turn and operate and function,” Dunn says.
Replacing the part isn’t easy. It requires the dome to be removed from atop the tower. Doing this is risky and requires careful planning. Crews must also ensure the radar isn’t inactive during severe weather.
Dunn says there are numerous other radars throughout the state that step up to fill the void left behind by an inactive radar, including towers in Fort Worth, Houston and New Bruanfels.
As of today, KGRK Doppler radar is back up and running, ready to assist us when the next severe weather event strikes. With this latest update, the radar will now be able to function for at least another two decades.