National Weather Service radar not working as tornado hit Wendell, Zebulon

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During Monday’s storms and a tornado that hit some parts of N.C., the National Weather Service’s Raleigh radar was down for maintenance, which the agency’s science operations office says was necessary to prevent “catastrophic damage to the radar.” 

“The radar actually had a faulty mechanism in it, and if it had not been repaired at that point we actually could have had more catastrophic damage to the radar that would potentially force it to be out for weeks,” said Jonathan Blaes of the NWS.

The NWS has confirmed an EF-2 tornado touched down in eastern Wake County Monday morning, causing damage in several communities, including Wendell and Zebulon.

 We definitely didn’t expect tornadoes to be as strong as they were yesterday or for them to occur,” said Blaes. The NWS issued a tornado warning at 10:13 a.m.
The NWS issued notifications last week and again Monday morning on social media that the radar would undergo maintenance beginning Monday and lasting through “most of Tuesday.”

“We actually had crews and engineers flying in from Oklahoma to work on the radar. They’re doing that today, and it should be back up by the end of the day today,” said Blaes. “Every storm, every event is different. The good thing about our location here is we are surrounded by six additional National Weather Service radar. And, they’re designed such that they provide and umbrella of coverage across the country.” 

Blaes said the NWS also utilized a Federal Aviation Administration radar in Raleigh.

“We were able to do what we needed to do, and we had the tools that were available. We practice this type of event. We utilize the neighboring radars all the time during our severe weather operations,” he said.

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