NEXRAD radar holes

Dec 4, 2003
I created these graphics today to get an idea of where the "radar holes" are located and to see the basic coverage of the WSR-88D network. The green falls off at about 100 nm into reds, and the outermost blue color is at 248 nm (the limit of the base data).

Great Plains (click to enlarge)

United States (click to enlarge)

Interesting that northern Missouri (major agricultural belt) has one of the worst radar holes east of the Rockies.

Also see the following for similar maps: (Multi-site coverage maps, adjusted for obstructions) (Single-site coverage maps, adjusted for obstructions) (Basic maps)

Here's a coverage map (at 10,000 feet above site level) of the pre-Nexrad radar network and the proposed Nexrad network, if anyone is interested.

It's an online book and there is some other interesting stuff in there if you go to the table of contents and skim through out.

A while back, some cities were going to lose their old radar site to other cities, but it was eventually decided that some of these would receive a Nexrad. Evansville, Indiana received theirs early in 2003.

Comparison of Nexrad location with previous radar network by distance.
I find interesting the ominous hole over Area 51 in Nevada. I wonder if they restrict radars pointing in their direction?

How much does it cost to build and install a WSR-88D?

I ask, because if I was a senator from Missouri or Texas, I'd sure be interested in getting a couple more installations to cover the blind spot in my state. It looks like Missouri could use a doppler somewhere in the Kirksville area. Texas needs another one in a couple of spots.
Really interesting map, Tim!

Northern Missouri has a quite a radar gap, as every local station is located in or near the major metropolitan areas (EAX, TOP, OAX, DMX), and the metropolitan areas are spaced at equidistant intervals which happen to coincide with nearly the exact radar limitations. This means that spotters/chasers located in a belt from extreme northeast KS, southeast NE, SW Iowa through northern Missouri serve as virtually the only means for communicating surface level storm behavior. If a storm is located in this zone and I happen to be on it, it makes me more aware of reporting. Typically the NWS seems to do pretty well issuing reports up here, though, all things considered.

Kirksville would be a nice addition for 88D, but it would still leave a gap where the four states come together ... and keep in mind that this region also happens to be one of the most active for tornadic supercells in the state. Lamoni, Iowa may be a good spot to start ... but there would still be a gap on the eastern side of the state.
Here's a look at the 125 nautical mile radius from Kirksville, Missouri. Range rings are spaced at 25 nm intervals.

i've been saying for a while that we need this here!!! i am from keokuk, iowa, and many times i felt like that was too far from the davenport office for good radar. now i'm in hannibal, missouri, and we're on the edge of st louis's office. my real dream would mean that they put in an additional nws office, so i could get a job there... dream on.

I also suggest a new radar at Paris, Texas, in Lamar County. That would cover the gap along the Oklahoma border.

Another one at Crockett, Texas, in Houston County would cover the remaining Texas gap.

Anyone have $2,000 to buy a senator?
Of course the west is notoriously bad. The terrain just makes it impossible to cover everything. Another bad area is in Vermont. The Burlington radar is located in the Champlain Valley and has a hard time seeing over the Green and Adirondack Mountains.
One thing that I've always found interesting in coverage is that up here in nw IA, Emmet/Palo Alto counties cannot be reached by DMX radar so they use FSD's radar instead to cover them.

But, they are still a part of DMX office... Why wouldn't they just go along with FSD then if Des Moines can't reach em'?
OK, here you go:

* Radar added at Kirksville, MO
* Radar added at Crockett, TX
* Radar added at Paris, TX
* Radar added at Clayton, NM (my suggestion)

Looks better. We could really use that Clayton radar today.

(click to enlarge)

BTW each range ring is exactly 10 nm; I didn't make that clear earlier.
We could really use on in south central South Dakota too. I've noticed before there seems to be a shortage of data in that area.
Considering these numbers from 2001, I don't see any improvements in the near future: (from Jo's Science textbook)

Our tax dollars spent (with rank in parenthesis) in 2001 (in millions)

(1) Department of Defense - 35,870
(2) National Institutes of Health - 11,334
(3) NASA (human space flight & mission support) - 8,129
(4) NASA (research & development) - 5,891
(5) Department of Energy (Environmental restoratrion; nucleur waste management) - 5,837
(6) Department of Energy (General science & research) - 5,208
(7) National Science Foundation - 3,360
(8) Department of Agriculture - 1,436
(9) National Institues of Standards & Technology - 790
(10) EPA - 350
(11) NOAA - 259
Agree 100% -- there are too many critical gaps in the radar network. "Gap-filler" radars (5cm) can be purchased for a few hundred thousand dollars and operated remotely from the WFO's.

Most all of the major gaps could be filled for a fraction of what NWS is spending on NDFD.

This is why Sen. Santorum's bill is so important and in everyone's best interest. We need the NWS focused on quality data collection and public safety -- not on corporate welfare like NDFD!
santorum bill

Mike, I never got an answer to the question I asked supporters of this bill a couple of weeks ago.

If this bill passes, will the public still have free on-line access to

1) all current SPC products including mesoscale discussions, outlooks, storm data, convective discussions, etc.?

2) the SPC mesoscale analysis page

3) online computer model output.

Because, if the public loses access to those products, I can't see how the bill is in our best interest.

All of the products you listed will still be available if the bill passes.

We could really use on in south central South Dakota too. I've noticed before there seems to be a shortage of data in that area.

I remember when I worked at the Sioux Falls NWS in the early 90's, there was talk of either placing the Aberdeen radar further south (Redfield, I think) or the North Platte radar further north, to try to cover that gap. The KLNX radar site seems to be the result of that.

Maybe something just west of Pierre would be a good place, on the higher terrain along the Missouri River.

Chris G.
The prices cited are for 10cm radars which are much more expensive because of the larger antennas, towers, etc.

Television station radars are 5 cm and they do a very good job unless there is heavy rain or hail near or over the radar site. Because they are far less expensive, they make good "gap fillers."

There are a number of companies that make radars, some of which have significantly better resolution than the WSR-88D's. There is a private sector company that has installed and is selling dual-polarization radars.