NWS Green Bay Radar offline soon, what does it mean?

Beyond The Forecast

Photo courtesy of National Weather Service Green Bay

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)- The Nation Weather Service (NWS) radar in Green Bay (KRGB) will be offline for two weeks for scheduled maintenance beginning August 3.

This comes in addition to the announcement that NWS Green Bay weather balloon launches will remain out of service until mid-August. Areas in Northeast Wisconsin will be relying on neighboring Marquette (MI), La Crosse, Duluth (MN), and Milwaukee’s radars throughout the time period.

This is bad news in the event of any severe storms developing over the next two weeks. With the neighboring radars far away, it will be very hard to see lower levels of any storms developing.

INTERACTIVE: Wisconsin Weather Radar

Lack of nearby radar prevents meteorologists from seeing low-level winds along with any potential rotation near the ground. Additionally, low-level rain showers may be missed by the radars. In other words, if a local resident is wondering why it is raining and nothing is showing up on their phone radar, this can be a cause. These impacts could result in a delay of any type of warning issued to the public.

Photo courtesy of National Weather Service

Radar missing showers by shooting a beam over them is the phenomenon is known as radar beam overshooting. Pictured above is a good vertical cross-section of how this occurs. The increasing distance from radar corresponds to the increasing elevation of radar. If the closer radar is offline, it is possible for the second radar to overshoot into higher levels of a storm.

For example, if MXX is Green Bay and BMX is Milwaukee, Milwaukee’s radar will only see the top of the storm or overshoot small rain showers.

Meteorologists often adjust to these situations by relying more on surface observations. Ground-level observations often verify what radar is showing. However, when radar is offline those reports become crucial to piece together the bigger picture. In terms of severe weather, ground reports such as strong surface wind, which radar is not detecting, can trigger warnings issued by the NWS office.

In the case of low-level rain showers, if nothing is showing up on the radar these ground reports are crucial. Assuming conditions are favorable for low-level clouds and multiple reports from the ground say it’s raining, then it is likely the radar is overshooting the rain showers.

NWS Green Bay radar should be back online near August 17.

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