NWS: Biden budget could help fix radar, warning outages

By Scott Streater | 04/05/2024 01:36 PM EDT

The National Weather Service sufferered a radar system failure this week as severe storms rumbled across a large swath of the Midwest.

The U.S. as seen from space.

The U.S. as seen from space in December 2010. NOAA NESDIS Environmental Visualization Laboratory

The National Weather Service says the system outage that knocked out radar Tuesday and forced the agency to scramble to get tornado alerts out across the Midwest could be mostly solved with a modest budget increase.

Until then, the service said, the system will operate under the assumption that there will be 11 days of system outages in any given year.

The agency, which is part of NOAA, issued a statement Friday on its investigation of the outage, blaming an “intermittent hardware failure of the circuit that services the NWS data center” in College Park, Maryland, and a glitch that prevented the system from automatically switching over to its backup in Boulder, Colorado. That allowed the outage Tuesday to last about five hours.


At the time there were numerous tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings in place, and NWS and other meteorologists didn’t have radar data over a large swath of Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky.