It's been five months since Hurricane Laura completely destroyed the National Weather Service radar in Lake Charles.
But thanks to some hard work by contractors and technicians from the NEXRAD Radar Operations Center in Norman, it's fully back and fully operational.
We visited the NWS for an update on the completion of the radar and the important role it plays in Southwest Louisiana.
Excited. That's the word that Roger Erickson used to describe the feeling of having their new WSR-88d radar back on property, nearly 2 months ahead of schedule.
"Getting it back as quickly as we did, within 5 months, for a little bit under $2 million to put it back together. We are really pleased with that," said Erickson. "There were no delays getting it back either. The good news is there were spare parts at our warehouse that were able to be sent out here rather quickly and put it all together within a 5 month period for us."
And while their radar was out of service, the weather service had to turn to other radars to gather its data.
Those radars included one in Fort Polk that was predominately used and one in Lake Charles which Erikson said does a better job of looking at the low-level parts of the atmosphere.
That's because radars a greater distance away, like the one in Fort Polk, scan higher up in the atmosphere. That makes it difficult for meteorologists to be able to detect severe weather such as tornadoes.
"When we are talking about looking at 9,000 feet in the air, that isn't a good aspect in terms of trying to determine if you're looking at a tornado possibly developing on the radar," said Erickson.
Erikson adds that another important reason to have the radar back is because the approaching peak of severe weather season in Southwest and South Central Louisiana.
"And of course we will have it back for the upcoming hurricane season as well," he said.
Having this radar back up and running is vital in being able to keep those in Southwest Louisiana and all the surrounding areas safe.
And certainly that's what's most important to the National Weather Service and so many meteorologists across the country, keeping the public informed and safe from Mother Nature.
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