© 2021 Boise State Public Radio
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Boise's Doppler Radar Will Shut Down For An Upgrade

Toby Talbot
AP Photos
Meteorologist Jessica Neiles checks the radar in South Burlington, Vt.

Boise will be without Doppler weather radar coverage for three weeks starting at the end of May.

Officials say it’s part of an eight-year upgrade to the nation's weather radar stations. The National Weather Service, U.S. Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration are chipping in $150 million for the project to fix up 159 stations. Boise’s radar, south of the airport, is eighth on the list to get the upgrade.

The radar that currently covers Boise was designed to last 25 years and has exceeded its lifespan.

“It’s kind of like the Mars Rover, it’s beyond its expected lifetime. This was designed actually in the late ‘80’s.”

Jay Breidenbach is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Boise.

“It’s a good thing it’s here on Earth and we don’t have to go to Mars to fix it,” says Breidenbach.

While Boise’s radar is down, nearby radars in Pendleton, Elko and Pocatello will provide limited coverage to southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon.

But what happens if there’s severe weather during the radar outage? He says satellite imagery, surface observations and lightning detection networks will help.

“Another thing that we can do is we have a network of storm spotters. Aand this goes back to the old SKYWARN days even before we had a Doppler radar — a lot of times we would rely on our spotter network,” says Breidenbach.

The improvements are designed to keep weather radar operating until the 2030s.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio