MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Maxwell has a unique job of maintaining a system known as Next Generation Radar or NEXRAD. The base maintains the NEXRAD system which is located about 45 minutes east of Maxwell Air Force base, and keeps it operational on a 24/7, 365 days a year.
This is a Doppler Weather Radar designed to detect severe weather events such as tornados, hail and excessive rain events that could cause flooding and snowfall amounts.
The NEXRAD impacts all people and property in most of Alabama as well as parts of Northwest Florida and Georgia. Combined with all NEXRADs in the United States, the NEXRAD network creates a mosaic of overlapping coverages that shows severe weather as it forms and moves across the U.S.
The National Weather Service is the primary user. Allen Coker, Maxwell Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems flight chief, said they use it to give real-time weather warnings when severe weather approaches.
Other users include the U.S. Military, Federal Aviation Administration and local television stations. Secondary users include government agencies and universities who study/archive the data for historical/long-term forecast purposes.
Coker also said that the impact of the NEXRAD system is far reaching and at times can impact millions of people across the Southeastern United States.
Although there is some overlap from surrounding radars, an outage of the Maxwell NEXRAD could impact the NWS forecasters ability to see low-level events (such as tornados on the ground), thus hindering their ability to give timely and accurate warnings.
The constant monitoring of the NEXRAD system is vital to more users than just those on base and Maxwell maintainers makes sure that it is always up and running to help warn and protect millions of users of potential severe weather.