The NWU Lekwena radar is a test bed for students to learn and develop creative solutions related to weather forecasting and now-casting. This means that the Radar can be switched off for maintenance or it could be broken on purpose in the name of learning. The radar should not be used as a tool to make any severe weather alerts as the South-African Weather Service is the only credible institution to do this. The radar should only be viewed as a tool for the development of young scientists and something interesting to look at.

To view the live NWU Lekwena Radar image click here or scroll to the bottom of the page

How to interpret the radar image


The radar is set to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and not South African Standard Time (SAST). To correct for this you need to add two hours to the time as indicated below, for example 12:04 UTC + 2 Hours = 14:04 SAST. To check if the radar is currently running the time should match within +-10 minutes of the actual time, if it doesn’t it’s safe to assume the radar or webserver is down.


Reflectivity (dBZ)

In the most basic terms a radar’s operation consists of a high frequency signal pulse that’s generated from the site, this signal echo’s when it interacts with large particles such as hail or raindrops and a receiver converts the echo into something human interpretable. This echo is represented as decibel relative to Z or dBZ. Strong dBZ means there are large particles producing a strong echo, this would be large rain, hail or ice particles in clouds.



The NWU Lekwena Radar has an license to operate on the 5.62 gHz bandwidth and any WiFi or communication network between 5.55 to 5.67 gHz causes problems and hampers data quality. The public is encouraged not to use these bandwidths in the Potchefstroom area and the NWU-CRG is willing to help users mitigate interference by advising on the installation of Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) devices. Users can also contact their service providers to learn more about the frequency of their devices and how to avoid interference with the Radar.


Places Indicators

The radar indicates towns with abbreviations and also some regional airports in the Gauteng Area with the Airplane sign. The little cloud sign indicates the location of the SAWS Irene Weather station. The circular lines indicate the distance of from the radar site, which is a maximum of 200km due to various factors such as the curvature of the earth


Real-Time NWU-Lekwena Radar



Weather and climate impact every aspect of society. From annoying us on the road, to loss of life and damage to property. Weather radar is the quintessential tool for observing thunderstorms in real-time and using this information to manage and mitigate the impact of this phenomenon. South Africa has a long history in radar science and currently boast a world-class national network of cutting edge radars operated by the South African Weather Service (SAWS) which forms an integral part of the country’s national infrastructure.


This project aims to support SAWS and the national government towards sustaining and making the most of this valuable resource. We hope to do this by giving students from multiple disciplines hands-on experience working with this technology, creating awareness around the benefits and potential use of weather radar, and lastly to do applied research that could help create products and services that can be rolled out on the national radar network.


The North-West University, and the Water Research Commission has funded the acquisition, installation and upgrade of a weather radar, situated just outside Potchefstroom. The Lekwena Wildlife Estate provided the site, along with access control and security, and Aon-Benfeld funded the communication link to facilitate real-time access to the radar.

Further Reading

Radar Images: Reflectivity

Understanding Weather Radar

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the NWS WSR-88D

Radar Basics for the Non-Meteorologist