JEFFERSONVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – When severe storms hit the weekend of January 21st, the Middle Georgia weather radar site went down during a critical time.
Technicians at Robins Air Force Base were ready.
Meteorologist Kristen Kennedy helps Middle Georgia plan its day with forecasts each morning.
The weekend of January 21st–the plan was to stay indoors.
“We had a squall line come through with several tornado warnings and very fast winds,” said Kennedy.
She tracks the storm with this–a radar site on Highway 96 run by technicians at Robins Air Force Base.
“The way we work–we have two technicians on call,” said Brian Lambert.
When something goes wrong, Lambert heads up the team that’s in charge of fixing it.
They jumped into action that same January weekend.
“We got the call from the national weather service,” said Lambert. “I made the call to technicians, everyone responded, we got down here, we figured out it was a bad motor.”
That changed the plan for Kennedy and other local meteorologists.
“So the meteorologists were panicking–what are we going to use if our actual closest radar site is down?”
Technician George Pacheco was in the tower as the storm continued, trying to get the radar working again.
“It’s nervous energy,” said Pacheco. “You feel the wind, the tower–it’s a solid tower but it does move. You feel the wind move the tower will sway back and forth.”
The job took just about all the man power the team had.
“Taking that component out of where it sits, in the middle of that antenna and it does require the labor of three or four technicians,” said Pacheco.
They worked as quickly as possible to restore the meteorologist their main tool.
“It’s probably about a five hour job, we were able to move and replace it, put the new one in and align everything in about three hours, which is pretty quick,” said Pacheco.
Which helped Kennedy, who used a different, less effective radar site.
“So with the Peachtree City radar, we were able to kind of see where there were perhaps some strong storms occurring, but we couldn’t catch the rotation,” said Kennedy. “And we couldn’t catch exactly where the storm structure was occurring because it was just too far away.”
Thankfully, the storms didn’t affect plans as much the rest of the weekend.
“We understand it’s a responsibility we have to provide accurate tools,” said Pacheco.