Just in time for incoming snow, National Weather Service’s radar in Kansas City goes down for upgrades

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- FOX4 meteorologists will have one fewer tool at their disposal Tuesday as snow makes its way to the metro.

The National Weather Service radar site serving Kansas City is down for upgrades right now.

WSR-88D in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, is so named because the radar system was built in 1988. Technicians took the 750,000-watt weather radar offline Monday morning for upgrades scheduled to continue through Wednesday.

“It will make the imagery clearer," NWS Meteorologist in Charge Julie Adolphson said. "It will give us more information, so we will be able to spin a little faster, so you will be getting more information more frequently."

In the short term, the radar outage is not affecting forecasts but could make it a little more difficult to see what’s happening with snow bands in certain areas, especially to the southeast of Kansas City.

The National Weather Service said Kansas City does have the advantage of radars at the airport and Topeka to help piece together the puzzle in the absence of the metro’s main radar site.

Upgrades valued at $150 million are being made at radar sites around around the country, with the NWS, FAA and Air Force splitting the cost. Work was originally scheduled for April during severe weather season but was moved to this week.

“It’s really difficult to put a national upgrade program in delay for some event like this because they have to go on and do another radar next week for instance," Adolphson said.

The four-phase upgrade is expected to keep the system up and running into the 2030s.