Down Radar During Storms Causes Problems for NWS in Blacksburg - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Down Radar During Storms Causes Problems for National Weather Service in Blacksburg

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The National Weather System's radar in Floyd County was down at the height of storms this week.

Peter Corrigan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Blacksburg, shows us all five of the radars giving him information from places like D.C. and Charleston. Usually, he just has to look at one to get information.

"Radar is critical to estimating rainfall which goes into flooding," Corrigan says. "If we didn't have a good estimate on how much rain is falling, it starts to handicap us."

The meteorologists here went more than two days flying blind with a broken radar.

Many of them say they've never gone this long without the radar working.

It even made them miss alerting people to straight line winds headed for Bedford and Franklin County.

Corrigan says this is some of the worst flooding ever recorded in the month of July.

The meteorologists say their records show this is the 10th highest crest for the Roanoke River.

"This wasn't trivial to lose the radar," Corrigan says. "We were able to function, but it was at a slightly degraded ability to look at the storms."

Monitoring the storm in our own newsroom became increasingly difficult without this information.

Our meteorologist Patrick McKee says in times like this, our viewers can really play a big part in forecasting the weather.

"When the radar is down we rely on people from across the area to fill in the gaps so we learn a little more about what's happening since we can't see it as well," McKee says.

The radar started working again 6 p.m. Friday night.