After undergoing multiple years of enhancements and repairs, the KLTX WSR-88D Doppler Radar in Shallotte, located just off Highway 130 near M’s Automotive, should now be good to go until 2040.
The enhancements were part of a seven-year project to extend the life of the radar that included an upgraded signal processor, a new transmitter, new equipment shelters and — most recently — a new pedestal, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) Warning Coordination Meteorologist for Wilmington Steve Pfaff said.
In an NWS document obtained by Pfaff, he said it states: “Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), a series of upgrades and replacements that will keep our nation’s radars viable into the 2030’s. NOAA National Weather Service, the United States Air Force, and the Federal Aviation Administration are investing $150 million in the seven-year program.”
He said he was given the seven-year figure prior to the pedestal replacement in early January 2023.
He explained that since the project was completed, the radar has not had any issues.
“We have not observed any issues with the new pedestal, or with any of the SLEP enhancements,” he said.
He noted that the radar did not have any issues prior to the new pedestal installment either, but the pedestals were outdated which called for replacement.
“However, the pedestals are only designed to last around 20 [years], and KLTX was beyond the life expectancy of that part of the radar,” he said. “As a result, a new one was installed, and without it the radar would not be able to rotate or change elevation scans.”
Although the radar is expected to operate for another 17 years, Pfaff said relocation is being looked at because trees were blocking its beams, however, the trees have since been removed.
“There is a plan to relocate the radar,” he said. “But that scenario is being reassessed given the recent harvest of large trees last October that accounted for a significant part of the beam blockage issue.”
Since the radar was installed in 1994, he explained, the nearby tree growth became problematic because they were blocking the radars beam — especially over the last few years he added.
“Fortunately, a nearby landowner harvested trees which greatly improved the tree blockage issue,” he said. “Basically, the tree clearing has given the agency time to reassess the issue, so it is not yet known if the solution will require moving the radar or not.”
He explained that if the radar were to be moved, it would be best for it to be relocated to somewhere else in Brunswick County because of its central location.
“Brunswick County is a perfect location given the ability to observe approaching hurricanes yet strategically located between the Myrtle Beach and Wilmington population centers while still serving the rural communities in between,” he said.
Asked if the NWS is planning to add another doppler or weather instrument to the area, he said no.
“We hope that KLTX continues to serve communities of southeast North Carolina and northeast South Carolina through 2040 with no issues,” he said. “It has been a tremendous forecast and warning tool given the large number of tropical storms, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, floods, tornadoes, and winter storms the area has experienced since its deployment.”
Savanna Tenenoff is the staff writer at the Brunswick Beacon. Feel free to reach out with comments, questions and tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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