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Turbulent year for the Shannon Airport Rainfall Radar

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Long-term outages at the Shannon Airport Rainfall Radar have been attributed to overheating, positioning and power failures.

Installed in 1996, Met Éireann have described the radar as “arguably the most important radar in Ireland”. This is because it is the first to detect weather in the south-west and it provides coverage for forecasts used in this part of the country.

During 2019, several problems impacted on the Shannon radar. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request carried out by TheJournal.ie highlighted the various issues that proved problematic.

August 3rd marked the first major outage caused by a technical issue which resulted in the radar going offline for less than a fortnight. A replacement part had to be sourced from Germany before being fitted to address the problem. A month earlier, staff reported concerns with an antenna on the radar.

A second technical fault on October 17th put the radar offline, the power supply was replaced the following day but caused “severe noise” when stopping the transmission. A new power supply was fitted that week, however another outage occurred on October 24th, the reason for which was labelled as ‘erratic’ movement of the antenna.

Such erratic movement continued with staff told on October 29th to treat the antenna “with caution”. Notification was given to employees that a second board would be inserted on October 30th but on October 31st they were informed the repair was more serious due to the risk of overheating and a request was sent to the manufacturers to provide an engineer.

Works were completed on November 25th and Met Éireann apologised to the affected counties. The national meteorological service advised that it was planning a major programme to expand and modernise the radar network which it expects to meet the country’s needs to 2040. No timeline of such upgrades has been outlined.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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