Radar Outage Costs and the Value of Alternate Datasets

Scott D. Rudlosky aNOAA/NESDIS/STAR, College Park, Maryland
bESSIC/CISESS, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

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Joseph Patton bESSIC/CISESS, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

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Eric Palagonia bESSIC/CISESS, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

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John Y. N. Cho cLincoln Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lexington, Massachusetts

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James M. Kurdzo cLincoln Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lexington, Massachusetts

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Abstract

Quantifying the costs of radar outages allows value to be attributed to the alternate datasets that help mitigate outages. When radars are offline, forecasters rely more heavily on nearby radars, surface reports, numerical weather prediction models, and satellite observations. Monetized radar benefit models allow value to be attributed to individual radars for mitigating the threat to life from tornadoes, flash floods, and severe winds. Eighteen radars exceed $20 million in annual benefits for mitigating the threat to life from these convective hazards. The Jackson, Mississippi, radar (KDGX) provides the most value ($41.4 million), with the vast majority related to tornado risk mitigation ($29.4 million). During 2020–23, the average radar is offline for 2.57% of minutes or 9.27 days per year and experiences an average of 58.9 outages per year lasting 4.32 h on average. Radar outage cost estimates vary by location and convective hazard. Outage cost estimates concentrate at the top, with 8, 2, 4, and 5 radars exceeding $1 million in outage costs during 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023, respectively. The KDGX radar experiences outage frequencies of 4.92% and 5.50% during 2020 and 2023, resulting in outage cost estimates > $2 million in both years. Combining outage cost estimates for all radars suggests that approximately $29.1 million in annual radar outage costs may be attributable as value to alternative datasets for helping mitigate radar outage impacts.

Significance Statement

This study combines information on radar status and monetized radar benefit models to attribute value to individual radars, estimate radar outage costs, and quantify the potential value of alternative datasets during outage-induced gaps in coverage. Eighteen radars exceed $20 million in annual benefits for mitigating the combined threat to life from tornadoes, flash floods, and severe winds. The first and third most valuable radars, both in Mississippi, experience outage frequencies twice the national average, accounting for a disproportionate share of the overall outage costs. Our findings suggest that characterizing and mitigating these outages might provide a near-term solution to better protect these communities from convective hazards. Combining outage cost estimates for all radars suggests that approximately $29.1 million in annual radar outage costs may be attributable as value to alternative datasets for helping mitigate the impacts of radar outages.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Scott D. Rudlosky, scott.rudlosky@noaa.gov

Abstract

Quantifying the costs of radar outages allows value to be attributed to the alternate datasets that help mitigate outages. When radars are offline, forecasters rely more heavily on nearby radars, surface reports, numerical weather prediction models, and satellite observations. Monetized radar benefit models allow value to be attributed to individual radars for mitigating the threat to life from tornadoes, flash floods, and severe winds. Eighteen radars exceed $20 million in annual benefits for mitigating the threat to life from these convective hazards. The Jackson, Mississippi, radar (KDGX) provides the most value ($41.4 million), with the vast majority related to tornado risk mitigation ($29.4 million). During 2020–23, the average radar is offline for 2.57% of minutes or 9.27 days per year and experiences an average of 58.9 outages per year lasting 4.32 h on average. Radar outage cost estimates vary by location and convective hazard. Outage cost estimates concentrate at the top, with 8, 2, 4, and 5 radars exceeding $1 million in outage costs during 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023, respectively. The KDGX radar experiences outage frequencies of 4.92% and 5.50% during 2020 and 2023, resulting in outage cost estimates > $2 million in both years. Combining outage cost estimates for all radars suggests that approximately $29.1 million in annual radar outage costs may be attributable as value to alternative datasets for helping mitigate radar outage impacts.

Significance Statement

This study combines information on radar status and monetized radar benefit models to attribute value to individual radars, estimate radar outage costs, and quantify the potential value of alternative datasets during outage-induced gaps in coverage. Eighteen radars exceed $20 million in annual benefits for mitigating the combined threat to life from tornadoes, flash floods, and severe winds. The first and third most valuable radars, both in Mississippi, experience outage frequencies twice the national average, accounting for a disproportionate share of the overall outage costs. Our findings suggest that characterizing and mitigating these outages might provide a near-term solution to better protect these communities from convective hazards. Combining outage cost estimates for all radars suggests that approximately $29.1 million in annual radar outage costs may be attributable as value to alternative datasets for helping mitigate the impacts of radar outages.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Scott D. Rudlosky, scott.rudlosky@noaa.gov
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