Senator John Hoeven issued the following statement as the National Weather Service (NWS) this week began upgrading the KMBX weather radar that serves the Minot region. The upgrades are being made under the Service Life Extension Program, which rehabilitates and improves the performance of the existing NEXRAD system. The KMBX radar is set to receive generator and power upgrades, with work on this particular sequence of repairs expected to be complete by the end of this week.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to fund the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), which would receive nearly $16 million under the Senate’s recently-released Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 funding legislation, and pressed the administration for repairs and upgrades to Minot’s radar after maintenance issues affected its performance. This comes as part of the senator’s broader efforts with the NWS, Air Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address radar outages impacting North Dakota and ensure the systems’ reliability. These efforts also include:
- Adjusting the radar system in Minot to expand low-level coverage in western North Dakota and improve severe weather and tornado warnings in the region. The adjustment was completed last year.
- Hoeven pressed for this adjustment following the 2018 tornado that resulted in one death, dozens of injuries and the displacement of approximately 200 local residents in Watford City.
- Hoeven also ensured NOAA included North Dakota in a report on gaps in NEXRAD coverage, which was required by legislation that Congress passed in 2017.
- Advancing the Phased Array Weather Radar program to research and develop the next generation of weather radar. The Senate’s FY2021 funding legislation provides $14 million for this priority.
“The NEXRAD weather radar provides an essential service to our communities, helping to warn residents about the threat of severe weather and informing a wide array of business operations, from agriculture to transportation,” said Hoeven. “That’s why we funded Minot’s upgrades through the Service Life Extension Program and pressed the administration to quickly resolve the radar’s maintenance issues, which will help ensure local residents can rely on this radar service when it is needed most. More broadly, efforts like this will promote the reliability of our existing radar systems while we support the development of the next generation of radar technology.”