55th Anniversary of first WSR-57 radar commissioning


Aviation building with a radome on top (NWS Miami)

On June 26, 1959 the first operational Weather Surveillance Radar version 1957 (WSR-57) was commissioned at Miami’s Weather Bureau office.  Because of the devastating 1954 hurricane season, Congress authorized funds for the Weather Bureau to build a network of advanced weather radars, concentrating on coastal sites to provide early warning of hurricanes.  (Congress at this time also authorized funds to found the National Hurricane Research Project (NHRP) which became HRD.)


Hurricane Donna from Miami’s new radar

The radome was mounted on top of the Aviation Building (aka the Chicken Coop) northeast of Miami International Airport, where the Weather Bureau office was co-located with the Miami Hurricane Warning Center and NHRP.  The next year the system proved its worth in tracking Hurricane Donna which battered south Florida.

The network expanded to some 120 radars with an updated version (WSR-74) replacing some units.  The last WSR-57 was decomissioned at Charleston, SC, in 1996.  The WSR-57s were replaced by WSR-88s (aka Nexrad) in the 1990s.