Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Coastal Weather Radar
It is time for all those interested to push for a coastal weather radar in our region.
As I have discussed in this blog and in a web page on the topic, http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~cliff/coastalradar.html , the Pacific Northwest has the worst radar coverage of any coastal location in the continental U.S. (see graphic, red indicates no coverage). The only weather radar in western Washington is on Camano Island and its beam is blocked by the Olympics, so there is virtually no coverage over the coast and nearshore waters. We have some of the most active weather in the U.S., but we can't see the details of the storms coming in. Here in Seattle we can plan our days and understand the weather using the weather radar...in Gray's Harbor county you can't. We can't get see heavy precipitation on the SW and W windward slopes of the Olympics, or the coastal mountains of SW Washington. There have been a number of short-term forecast failures that could have been prevented if we had such a radar.
Strong support for the radar exists in the coastal communities, from environment groups, to the forestry industry, to the fishery community, and local municipalities.
The radar would cost around 4.5 million, plus installation costs and land--no more than 6-8 million in total. The region could save that in a single major storm, if the forecast could be improved (e.g., the major flooding in December 07 on the Chehalis). A location somewhere between Westport and Pacific Beach would work. Several of our senatorial and congressional delegation have been supportive, with Senator Cantwell taking a lead (see the web page for more info on this).
There will be hundreds of billions spent on infrastructure improvements for our nation. Wouldn't improving the weather prediction and warning infrastructure for our region be an exceptionally wise use of such funds? And the project is "shovel ready." Radar hardware vendors could deliver and install the unit within a year.
I would be happy to answer questions about this in this blog. But I am suggesting that you contact our U.S. Senators (Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray)...asking for their help (contact info is at http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~cliff/contact.html). Also contact your local congressperson...with those in Norm Dicks district (who have the most to gain) taking a lead.
After so many years of inferior weather radar coverage along the coast and offshore, it is time to fix this serious problem. Perhaps the growing community of those interested in NW weather can finally make this happen. Thanks, cliff
Posted by Cliff Mass at 9:48 AM