Lower Keys radar goes out

Lower Keys boaters thinking about heading out on the water have had a planning void this past week.

That’s because since March 31, the National Weather Service’s Lower Keys radar station have been out of service, meaning radar information and images has been unavailable.

“A lot of people would use that before they head out, to get a quick feel for how the day’s looking before they head out,” said David Ross, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Key West. “Forecasters use it to detect storms. They can use it to see how strong the storm is.”

“We have a hardware problem. It comes down to a wiring issue,” said Sean Diada, senior forecaster at the Weather Service in Key West. “They won’t have the radar to rely on, how to avoid a storm or heavy shower.”

The radar station is on the oceanside between Key West and Big Coppitt Key. Friday, Weather Service technicians from Tampa were working to fix it, Ross said.

“It’s very unusual for the radar to be down this long,” Diada said Thursday. “But it is a machine with moving parts. Sometimes something breaks and something is just wrong.”

“This kind of devolved into something that needed more than one person” to fix, Diada said.

“We use the radar all the time and not to have it is kind of a pain,” he said. “At least we get something from Miami for the Middle Keys. By the time you get to Key West, you’re looking at 10,000 feet up. When you get to the Marquesas, it can be 14,000 feet up.”

Larry Kahn: 305-440-3218