Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reno NEXRAD failure due to high wind and lee waves

High wind in Reno, NV during the early morning hours on December 19th left the NWS NEXRAD radar in... well... "less than ideal" condition. This would be deemed "radar failure." Check out the photos below of the aftermath of an estimated 140 mph wind gust! More information can be found here. Some very interesting meteorology went into the conditions that caused the destruction of this radar, which are described briefly in the link above. There were "lee waves" occurring downwind of the Sierra Nevadas that morning which caused intense vertical motion that was picked up on satellite. The lee waves were the likely cause of the extreme gusts. The fact that the radar is located at almost 8,300 feet above sea level contributed.
It will take quite a while for this radar site to be back in working order, but in the meantime, forecasters at the Reno NWS office will have to resort to using surrounding radar sites for their radar data. I've seen pictures of one other such radar failure in the past decade - the Laughlin AFB radar near Del Rio, TX radar that was hit by a presumed downburst with 90-100 mph wind on May 24, 2001.


Kevin said...

Looks like the tower and building structure are still intact. What couldn't they just scrap the dome and operate with the antenna (dish) exposed?

Meteorologist Erik Proseus said...

Not sure Kevin. I don't know about how sound the rest of the structure is, or whether they can even operate an exposed antenna without the dome. Interesting question. My research shows the similar Del Rio dome collapse rendered that radar OTS for a few months in 2001.