Civil marine radar, which operates at a low grazing-incidence angle and with horizontal polarization in transmitting and receiving, can be modified and used as a primary tool for surface wave monitoring. The high spatial resolutions of sea-clutter image sequences from X-band radar offer a means of deriving individual waves and wave field at low-cost. However, the performance of X-band radar is impaired under rainy conditions, which are usually accompanied by the severe weather at sea. In the present study, we examine the effectiveness of S-band radar for wave measurements under precipitation. The results of comprehensive comparative studies with sea-truth data show that S-band radar is capable of carrying out wave measurements in rainy conditions. Although the longer wavelength of the S-band leads to a coarser resolution of radar imagery, the S-band radar features at least the equivalent performance of the X-band system in non-rainy conditions, in terms of wave height measurement. The results suggest that the S-band and X-band could be complementary systems. In rainy conditions the S-band is more efficient but in the non-rainy periods the X-band gives more confident results. The relationship of significant wave height with radar signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and the modulation transfer function (MTF) between radar spectrum and wave spectrum for the used X-band and S-band radars are established and discussed in this paper.