Lightning hits radar at National Weather Service

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Meteorologists at the National Weather Service office in Melbourne are working without one of their primary tools right now: their main radar.

Meteorologist Matt Volkmer said Tuesday afternoon at about 3:46PM a lightning strike hit very close to their office during a heavy storm. They discovered that their KMLB was either struck by the bolt directly or the lightning hit close enough to damage the forecasting device.

The hit knocked out some key components of the radar including at least one part that must be replaced to get it back up and operational, said Volkmer.

The Melbourne office acts as one of the primary weather authorities for the area, but experts said Wednesday they have contingency plans in place for situations like this.

"Right now we have access to all the surrounding National Weather Service radars which are in Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami,” said Volkmer.

The office is also getting radar feeds from several local airports including Orlando International.

As for their radar though, Volkmer said they are hopeful the downtime will be short lived. The replacement part for the damaged one has been ordered and he is hopeful it will be installed Thursday. Volkmer said if no more damage is found and weather doesn’t become a factor, they’re confident the radar will be working again by the end of the week.

However the damage, he said, proof that even the Weather Service isn’t immune to the dangers of storm season.