NEW UNDERWOOD, S.D. — A joint venture by three federal agencies is breathing new life into weather radar stations, including one in the western part of South Dakota.

Service Life Extension Program is part of a $150 million, seven-year joint endeavor by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service, the U.S. Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The agencies are working to refurbish the nearly 160 weather radars across the country.

The tower outside New Underwood is the first in South Dakota to receive the upgrade. The radar tower gives a picture of incoming weather, from Gillette, Wyoming, to Chamberlain.

“This radar is 20 years old and it can go for another 20 years, but it just needs some upgrades,” said Nathan Rambo, an electronics technician for the National Weather Service. “As opposed to going out and purchasing a new radar, this will save the government a lot of money.”

The upgrades include rewiring the unit, the second phase of the project. Technicians worked on replacing old breaker and cables with new ones Tuesday.

Red labels are plastered all over the large electrical box with warnings for high voltage, gamma rays and radiation.

“This thing will kill if you aren’t careful,” Rambo said. “Even though we have the power off to the unit, we still follow strict safety measures.”

The program is expected to be completed at all 159 weather radars across the county by 2022.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com