That radar, a WSR-88D model, is the most powerful one tasked with scanning the skies in northern Virginia, central Maryland, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia and the District. It’s part of a network of 159 such Doppler radars maintained by the NWS nationwide. Each radar emits high-frequency pulses of energy, a portion of which bounce off precipitation targets and offer valuable information from inside a storm.
While the radar is down, forecasters will rely on airport radars and NWS radars at adjacent offices in State College, Pa.; Pittsburgh; Mount Holly, N.J.; Wakefield, Va.; Dover, Del.; Blacksburg, Va.; and Charleston.
This network of radars can stitch together a reasonable representation of storm surveys.
The region has some of the best radar coverage in the country thanks to four smaller, less-powerful “terminal” radars at the three major airports — Dulles, Reagan National and BWI Marshall — as well as Andrews Air