National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - NEXRAD Radar Operations Center


FLC Region

Security Lab



1200 Westheimer Drive
Bldg 375
Norman, OK 73069
United States

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The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) led the research effort to develop Doppler weather radar capability in the 1970s -1980s. This led to the Joint Doppler Operational Project in 1976-1978. This effort demonstrated Doppler radar capabilities, eventually leading to research to develop computer algorithms to detect wind velocity and improve detection of precipitation, severe thunderstorms, and tropical cyclones; increase weather warning lead times; enhance safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System; and provide automated exchange of digital weather radar data. The Federal Committee for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research approved the concept in 1979 and determined a common radar system needed to be acquired to meet the weather-related mission needs of the DOD, DOC and DOT. The original agencies involved were DOC/NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), DOD's Air Weather Service (AWS) and Naval Oceanography Command (NOC), and DOT's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The DOC/NOAA/NWS was responsible for managing and planning acquisition, and deployment of the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) system. The NEXRAD Joint Program Office was assigned program management responsibility under the DOC, with coordination of the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research (OFCM). Significant events include the award of a Limited Production Contract Award with Initial Operational Test and Evaluation in 1987-1989, followed by a Full-Scale Production Option in 1990. The delivery of the initial production systems started in 1992, with the last Full-Scale Production System delivered in Fiscal Year 1996.

The NEXRAD Program provided the major upgrade of the existing weather detection capabilities. This was accomplished by integrating advanced the Doppler radar capability, real-time signal processing techniques, advanced meteorological and hydrological algorithms, and automated product processing, distribution, and display technologies into the unique Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) system. The system has met or exceeded a 96% operational availability requirement to reliably observe weather, protect life and property, promote a safe and efficient National Airspace System, and enhance the nation's economy. The NEXRAD Program has executed a continuous program of modifications, retrofits, technology refreshments, and pre-planned NEXRAD Product Improvement upgrades. Milestones include transition to Open System Information Technology for the Radar Product Generator, 2001-2002 and Open Radar Data Acquisition unit in 2007-2008. This resulted in avoidance of component obsolescence, improved system maintainability and reliability, and eventual integration of Dual Polarization capability in 2011-2013. The NEXRAD Program developed, deployed and now operates a national Dual Polarization weather radar network capability comprised of 160 WSR-88D systems plus eight support systems. The WSR-88D had a projected 20-year service life, its average system age is 17 years, and with the planned Service Life Extension, will be maintainable through at least 2030.

To support this national effort, the NEXRAD Radar Operations Center (ROC) was stood up in 1986. It conducts the centralized life-cycle support of the WSR-88D hardware, software, depot-level maintenance, and engineering support for the system capabilities, vital to effective severe weather and flood warning, and to water resource management through its facilities located in Norman, OK.


The NEXRAD Radar Operations Center provides comprehensive, reliable life-cycle management of the WSR-88D to support the tri-agency missions of the National Weather Service (NWS), Air Force Weather Agency and Federal Aviation Administration, by reliably observing the atmosphere for severe weather, enabling the protect life and property, promoting a safe and efficient National Airspace System, and enhancing the nation's economy.

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