Lake Charles weather radar back online after Hurricane Laura damage

Published 2:01 pm Friday, January 22, 2021

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Today, the National Weather Service restored service to the weather radar serving southwest Louisiana and northwest Gulf of Mexico. Category 4 winds from Hurricane Laura significantly damaged the radar, making it inoperable on August 27, 2020.

“Weather radar imagery is flowing again, feeding weather forecasts and warnings and bringing back important public safety infrastructure to our Lake Charles community,” said Roger Erickson, warning coordination meteorologist, Lake Charles Weather Forecast Office. “We are thankful to have the radar online before the peak of severe weather this spring.”

The radar was restored in just five months, nearly two months ahead of schedule, at a cost of $1.65 million.

Since September, contractors and technicians from the NEXRAD Radar Operations Center in Norman, Oklahoma, worked to repair and replace damaged radar parts. All of the equipment inside the radome, including the antenna and pedestal, were replaced, along with repairs to the tower, fence, and equipment shelters. These efforts included working 65 feet above ground with heavy equipment weighing more than 8,000 pounds.

“Our team worked diligently to manage the entire restoration process, from the purchase of major components and contracting with specially trained crews, to deployment of our expert technicians to complete the installation and check-out of the system,” said Terrance Clark, Radar Operations Center director. “We are delighted the radar could return to service ahead of schedule, which is a testament to the hard work and expertise of our team and contractors working on this project.”

Hurricane Laura was the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. in 2020. It made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, as a Category 4 storm delivering winds up to 150 mph. Storm surge in excess of 15 feet caused heavy damage along the coast. The storm caused 42 deaths and was the most costly weather disaster in 2020 with more than $19 billion in losses.

The Radar Operations Center is a tri-agency organization, funded and staffed by NOAA’s National Weather Service, United States Air Force, and Federal Aviation Administration. The Center provides life-cycle management and support for all 159 NEXRADs across the Nation, U.S. territories, and select locations overseas.

The National Weather Service Lake Charles Forecast Office is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for 6 counties in southeast Texas, 16 parishes in southwest, south central, and central Louisiana, and adjacent coastal waters. Join us on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.