Thursday, October 28, 2010

Designed in 1957 using World War II technology, the WSR-57 was the first modern weather radar. "WSR-57" stands for "Weather Surveillance Radar 1957". It was first installed at the Miami Hurricane Forecast Center, and later in other parts of the continental United States. The WSR-57 was the first generation of radars designed expressly for a national warning network.

WSR-7 gave only coarse reflectivity data and no velocity data, which made it extremely difficult to predict tornadoes. Weather systems were traced across the radar screen using grease pencils. Forecasters had to manually turn a crank to adjust the radar's scan elevation, and needed considerable skill to judge the intensity of storms based on green blotches on the radar scope.

The military designation for the WSR-57 was AN/FPS-41. As the network of WSR-57 radars aged, operators sometimes had to scramble for spare parts no longer manufactured in the USA. The WSR-57 was eventually replaced by the WSR-74. One hundred twenty-eight of the WSR-57 and WSR-74 model radars were spread across the country as the National Weather Service's radar network until the 1990s.

WSR-57 Radar Clip of Hurricane Betsy