COLUMBUS, MS (WBRC) - A weather radar in Columbus, MS is down and may not be repaired in time to give data on the possible severe weather for Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
The Columbus, MS Air Force Base radar is currently down and waiting for parts to arrive, the NWS Birmingham office said in a public statement on Wednesday afternoon.
"The Columbus Air Force Base NEXRAD is one of our more critical radars. We use it to scan for storms moving into our western counties," WBRC chief meteorologist J-P Dice said.
"Because of the curvature of the Earth, the radar beam is higher off the ground the farther from the radar site. This means the Shelby County radar is of little use that far away," Dice added.
The NWS says it's not certain that the parts will arrive in time to make the repairs before the severe weather threat on Thursday.
The earliest it could be operational again is early-to-mid afternoon on Thursday, March 24.
Dice said if the radar isn't repaired before the severe storms, they'll have to rely on the Shelby County NEXRAD.
"This means we will not be able to see what is developing in the lowest levels of the atmosphere where tornadoes actually develop. We will be looking up thousands of feet into the air and likely over some low-level circulations," Dice said.
"For example, the Shelby County NEXRAD would be looking at a storm at an elevation of about 6,500 ft near the Alabama/Mississippi border and possibly missing a tornado. Let's hope it get fixed," Dice added.
All modes of severe weather are possible on Thursday, including damaging winds and tornadoes. The best chance of rain and thunderstorms will develop early Thursday afternoon through Thursday evening.
The NWS said meteorologists will still have data available from adjacent radars to assess the severity of the storm and issue warnings for potentially dangerous storms.
Stay weather aware and keep up with the latest weather information on the WBRC Weather app.