GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Just after 7 p.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service radar went out of service. It will not return to service until a maintenance technician can visit the site Friday to diagnose and repair the problem.

The timing for the outage is ideal with a stretch of sunshine forecast for the next week over much of West Michigan.

During the outage, surrounding National Weather Service radars indicates what is over West Michigan skies. The composite of radar scans from domes in cities like Gaylord, Chicago, Milwalkee and Detroit will be used until the West Michigan radar at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport returns to service.

In addition to surrounding radars, meteorologists use additional tools to monitor the skies. Satellite imagery from space does an exceptional job providing images of weather, as well as utilizing special channels of imagery to determine cloud layers, rain likelihood and storm severity. Satellites are used to detect lightning, too.

A few automated weather stations on the surface can also help to fill in some gaps like cloud height and rain recieved.

Radar outages can last a few hours to more than a week. If new equipment is needed to return the instrument to service the outage lasts longer.

The National Weather Service will release an update when the radar is returned to service.