New NWS radar tower (Photo: WFO Melbourne)
(January 23, 2013) - National Weather Service NEXRAD weather radar in Melbourne, Fla. is expected to return to full service by the end of January. The radar tower at Melbourne's International Airport was taken down in December with an eye toward raising it to a new height of 113 feet.
"Raising the tower to that height was no small task," said Eric Howieson, radar program manager for the National Weather Service Southern Region. "In order to properly support a tower of that height in a coastal tropical cyclone environment, it had to be completely disassembled, a new much larger foundation built and then the radar tower could be reassembled at its new height."
The decision to raise the tower was made after NOAA and the National Weather Service learned of plans to build a new maintenance hangar at the airport. Designed to service Boeing 747 aircraft, the hangar would have a peak height of approximately 90 feet.
Given the height of the old radar tower, the building would have created a partial signal blockage. The additional tower height will prevent blockage of the beam's low-level scans to the south-southeast, which is the primary direction for most approaching hurricanes.
When the Melbourne radar system comes back online, the beam will pass over the hangar to provide full 360-degree monitoring of hazardous weather conditions.
With kudos to everyone involved in the project, Howieson added, "This is a fine example of the lengths to which National Weather Service employees will go to ensure the people they serve are safe and the mission is met."
National Weather Service NEXRAD radars in Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami, as well as FAA radars in Orlando and Palm Beach have been and will continue to provide coverage until the Melbourne site is fully operational.
Tower construction (Photo: WFO Melbourne)
Tower site - upper left (Graphic: WFO Melbourne)