We have another major winter storm bearing down on us. So it only stands to reason someone would schedule maintenance for the next two weeks.
The National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids announced earlier this week their Doppler Radar unit is going to be undergoing routine maintenance to "refurbish and replace the radar pedestal as part of the radar Service Life Extension Program."
A plan with "Life Extension" in its name sounds like a smart use of our tax dollars. There's no quibbling with that. It's just the timing of this. Again, preaching to the choir here, but we do get pretty significant snow storms in February, as we do sometimes in January and in March, and even a sneaky blizzard in April has been known to happen.
Now, the problem you run into if you were to schedule this maintenance into early April is that you're moving into tornado season. Last year, Michigan's Tornado Awareness Week was March 21st-27th. And you really don't want to have your radar down for a tornado, so why not do this maintenance in early October. Sure, you can have bad weather, but a blizzard in early October would be a once in a lifetime type occurrence.
The reality is tornadoes are a whole lot more dangerous than snow storms. And you still have weather radar units in Detroit, Northern Indiana, Gaylord, Chicago, Milwaukee and even Green Bay to guide a winter storm into our part of Michigan. It's just the optics aren't great. A winter storm is bad, but a tornado is sudden and swift and accurate information is truly a life and death issue.