People watching the radar as the first rainstorms of the year rolled through southern Saskatchewan may have noticed a gap around the Bethune radar station Tuesday.
John Paul Cragg is the severe weather specialist for Environment Canada in the province and he said the radar station was down for regularly scheduled maintenance on that day.
“The radar is moving constantly and so lots of things within the radar have to be replaced or checked on to make sure that it’s fully functioning and that it can continue to function 24/7,” Cragg said.
In addition to regular upkeep for the radar equipment, Cragg said part of the maintenance work involved completing sealing work on panels for a dome that was replaced after the original was damaged in the major wind storm last October.
Regardless of the potential for storms at any time of year, he said regular maintenance has to go ahead to make sure everything works properly.
“If you’re scheduling maintenance a month out, it’s going to be almost impossible to know whether there’s going to be a big event that occurs when that maintenance is scheduled,” Cragg.
Basically, it’s hard to plan to accommodate severe weather while scheduling maintenance on a weather radar station.
“There are times when radar maintenance can be moved because of particular events (when) we need the radar up and running, but most of the time those radar maintenance times are stuck to and the repairs are made and the radar comes back up and runs,” Cragg said.
All radar stations across Canada are scheduled to be replaced in the next seven years. Radisson radar station was the very first one to be replaced across the country.
Bethune is scheduled to be completely replaced in 2019.