March 11, 2009

Coastal Weather Radar Receives Partial Funding


All, this is a big day for the local meteorological community and for the citizens of the state....2 million dollars for the coastal weather radar was in the omnibus spending bill passed by the Senate yesterday--and President Obama will sign it. For years the Northwest has been the only coastal area of the continental U.S. without weather radar coverage...perhaps this day will soon be over.

Major credit for this advance should go to Senator Maria Cantwell, who has been a champion of the radar acquisition, and who worked to get this item in the appropriations bill. Senator Cantwell's staff has also been very supportive, as have been other members of our Washington delegation. The radar will cost more than this amount (roughly 4 million for the hardware, plus installation and maintenance), but this is a major down payment. Hopefully, we can get a contribution of the land needed for this facility or install it on public property, and the additional appropriations that will finish the job (or perhaps NOAA could use some of the stimulus money it was given for infrastructure improvement to make this happen this year!). Many of us hope that Gary Locke, now secretary of commerce and someone certainly well acquainted with the problem, will intervene since NOAA and the NWS are under his authority.

Anyway, in this period of uncertain news, it is nice to have something very positive occur.

In 2001 we had a radar on the coast for 2 months, attached is a teaser image, showing you what we could see. In that image you can view an offshore front approaching...a feature invisible in the current radar at Camano Island (whose beam is blocked by the Olympics).

17 comments:

  1. Good Job Cliff. I know I give you a hard time sometimes, but a big thumbs up here. Halfway there. Lets hope you will be holding that golden shovel soon.
    Josh

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  2. What's the story with radar on the coast in 2001 but not now?

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  3. Very exciting news. But a minor correction -- Gary Locke has yet to be confirmed as Secretary of Commerce. This is just one more reason to hope for his quick approval.

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  4. I'd also like to hear the story of the guest radar appearance of 2001.

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  5. There was a field experiment called IMPROVE-1 for two months in 2001..we borrowed a radar from NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) for that short duration. One reason we know how good having a coastal radar would be.

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  6. I just talked to a former SAC weather observer who worked at Iceland and Mc Chord field back in the 50's He related that weather sondes or balloons used parachutes in populated areas for their re entry but elsewhere with no risk of population in the far north, they just sent them up without as they tended to land in the Atlantic.
    He relates Radar wasn't as advanced back then, more of a data tool. Looked more like oscilloscopes or cathode ray tubes.

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  7. Doesn't Q13 have a radar on the coast?

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  8. I won't make cliff answer the Q13 radar question again. Q13 has a very weak radar that is often down and is located in the wrong location.

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  9. Spectacular! That image from 2001 is amazing & colorful evidence of the value a radar. I bet this news made your bike-ride home tonight very zippy =)

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  10. Hey Cliff...congrats on working your way to get the Sennett bill passed to be in the works of eventually getting oh so very important coastal radar so the folks out there can really see whats coming an also better prepared to for when the 'big storms' come in.

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  11. Yes!! This is fantastic news! I'm really looking forward to this being a reality. Great work, Cliff!

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  12. being from Miami, FL and now in Seattle.... having a radar on the coast is muchly needed! Let's hope this goes through quickly!

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  13. Maybe the base in Pacific Beach could donate the land...???

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  14. Technically, I believe the money for this radar was what's known as an "earmark," correct? And that's why for all the talk of eliminating "earmarks" it is so hard to do in practice: for every crazy bridge to nowhere there's a much-needed and well-defined project like this one.

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  15. hooray for Cliff and for Senator Cantwell, and for all contributing to this progress

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