May 28, 2009

Big Day for the Coastal Radar and our fine weather continues

It was an extraordinary day today. At a community forum in Seattle organized by Senator Maria Cantwell, the coastal radar issue was discussed in depth. The full cost of the radar is in the proposed budget...and if passed by Congress...the radar will happen. This is getting close to a sure thing. The National Weather Service was there in force, including their Director Jack Hayes and head of Science and Technology, Don Berchoff. The NWS is now an enthusiastic supporter of the acquistion and they have hired a team to do site surveys on the coast this week. By January or February a decison on siting should be done...AFTER community input and reaction. Talking about community, there was lots of radar supporters from the coast in attendance. This has been a community project from the beginning...and I think the NWS brass were impressed by the depth and variety of the radar advocates. Having Senator Cantwell on our side has been crucial, particularly since she chairs the subcommittee overseeing NOAA. And her staff have been terrific. Finally, the radar got a big play in the press..including the cover of the Seattle Times and all the major news programs.
There are a few battles left now. Many of us at the UW think the radar should be set up to scan as low as possible to get the most range...but the NWS has some rule of never going above .5 degrees above the horizon. We need to convince them. And we would like our radar to scan the skies in the most optimal way for our community, which includes both horizontal sweeps (call PPI in the business) AND up and down at at a constant azimuth (called RHI). The latter scans gives a detailed vertical cross section that really helps see the structure of weather systems and assists in determining precipitation over the mountains. But perhaps I am getting too technical here. But this is a revolution in the making.
The situation the next 4-5 days is nearly optimal for outdoor activities...temps in the 70s over the lowlands (near 80F tomorrow) with lots of sun and no lowland rain. No June gloom--at least for a while. Of course, there will be great temperature contrasts near shorelines, since the Sound and the Pacific are both around 50F


  1. Cliff -

    I am so excited that we Washington folks are getting the coastal radar. This past crazy winter, I read your blogs religiously and could understand, even as a weather layman, the importance of getting low-elevation data from the coast. This is great news. Your book is awesome, too!

  2. Hey Cliff, Where do I register for that atmospheric class???

  3. Way to go, Cliff...ould not have done it without you! But why so long before it's operational? Would appreciate understanding the timeline.

    BTW, did you catch that Cheryl Chow will leaving her post. Hope her damage can be undone

  4. Remember... there are people who hate these conditions...

  5. For those of us who follow this blog but like weather, and are having a really tough time right now with this really boring and gloomy weather pattern, here's something to possibly be a little excited about... there are at least slight hints of a little nice weather around the end of the first week of June.

    But at this time of the year, with the bad weather already taking hold, I wouldn't hang your hat on it quite yet.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Nick E....
    Gloomy weather pattern? Say what?! It`s been practically mostly sunny since about the weekend with highs in the low-mid 70`s. Unless I`m missing something, why would you be saying this is gloomy. Also....bad weather taking hold? What bad weather? The weather is nice right now and has been that way the last several days.

  8. Cliff,

    Why would it take 8-9 months to get the selection of the site for the radar. That seems a little ridiculous to me, and I am sure to others. We know we need a radar on the coast, the public is already aware and I have not heard of any opposition for the Westport site, so why would it take that long to find the site for it to go?

  9. Cliff said: "Many of us at the UW think the radar should be set up to scan as low as possible to get the most range...but the NWS has some rule of never going above .5 degrees above the horizon"

    Do you mean the "NWS has some rule of never going below .5 degrees above the horizon"

    Or am I missing something?

    What do the local NWS forecasters want?

    It will be interesting to see them run it in clear air mode too during migration season ... do we have any offshore bird migration in the PNW?

    ghcshweather78: "Why would it take 8-9 months to get the selection of the site for the radar."

    Site selection. Negotiations with site owner. EIS. Permitting process including meetings. Less than a year is pretty good!

    Congratulations. Now we can see the storms heading this way ...

  10. Andy, we are being baited to respond to contrarians, people who resent the predominant values of warm sun over more dynamic weather. I know there are some who have legitimate medical concerns but other than that it is mostly ducks and slugs who love the cold, clammy weather. Admit it, humans are meant for warm weather, why we lack the thick pelts of critters native to the upper temperate regions. If it wern't for our gorgeous summers, I'd relocate in a heartbeat. But we do have gorgeous summers! Those who love bleak weather won't likely be disappointed in June but maybe they should consider relocating.

  11. Andy, I'm a meteorologist... I like enjoying weather, not this. This is uncomfortable, hot, and boring. Dr. Mass knows who I am - I've taken classes from him. I moved to the Northwest to enjoy the cool, cloudy weather, but am so not used to months on end of nothing - and it's really tough to take. Not to mention that there's no place to escape from the heat. I don't like it, so I don't call it nice (I usually don't call something I don't like nice :) I know my opinion is different than some people's, but I am stating it anyway - at first it was really to let other people I've seen post on here know that they aren't alone.

    How's it going Dr. Mass?


  12. To answer a few questions:

    the site survey takes time. First, we need to find the best sites meteorologically. Then insure there is power and utilities and no environmental issues. Then there has to be a public comments and reaction period. This is the government, it all takes twice as long as one would think necessary. But after waiting this long we need to do this right. A number of the NWS radars are in the wrong Medford...on top of mountain and virtually useless..cliff

  13. Well today was NICE. Nice`n Sunny with high of 84. I don`t see how anyone could enjoy cloudy, gloomy weather. To much gray and not enough sunshine. Majority of us like sunshine and warmth. Sunshine is good and also makes us feel good. Also, people are happier when it`s sunny.

  14. Expand your horizons, Andy... open your mind. :)

  15. Nick,
    I love rough weather as much as any one else who greeidly followed this blog all winter, looking for every scrap of "weather" coming our way... but as a human being, certainly you recognize that your very EXISTENCE depends upon the weather that you HATE?

    Dude, one way or another, you survive because of organisms that convert sunlight to stored energy (plants). If you're a meat-eater like me, you should be even more apprecative of this weather... it takes MANY thousands of hours of sunlight to grow the food crops or grass required for our favorite yummy critter to grow to near-maturity for harvest.

    There's another way in which we need weather to survive... the water cycle. Food animals in particular need truly phenomenal amounts of potable water to grow to slaughterhouse size; but even lowly plants like the soybean require lots of fresh water to grow. It's gotta come down as rain or snow somewhere, and being able to predict snowpack and resulting melt/runoff rates is important for many practical reasons.

    So growl all you want about the gorgeous sunshine; some people are never happy. But remember that even if you HATE it, you NEED it to survive.

    BTW, swamp coolers work great here much of the hot part of the year; you'd probably like the cool clammy air that they provide on hot days.

  16. Nick and Weather is your life and others,
    PLEASE! No more of this business about bad weather is good, etc. And criticizing other people because they like good weather. And don't respond to my note about it.Please go to another blog to talk about this...cliff

  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  18. You forgot to tell people to not criticize people who like the cooler and cloudy weather. :)

  19. I once had dinner with a flyboy who was at the Hanoi Hilton (Vietnam prison camp) for over 5 years. He said something that is very powerful. Even though he was beaten, humiliated, stripped of all his clothes, he still had the power to choose. It wasn't much, but he choose not to let them take away his freedom to respond. In other words;outside sources whether it be a Vietnamese prison guard or the "STATE OF THE WEATHER" did not determine the way he felt. He actually turned his "HATE" into something else.

    Our awareness to choose is powerful and yet at the same time terrifying. We now become accountable for our own situation. You can't hate the weather. Hate alone is a big word. Weather is Weather. If you want the weather to determine your emotions you have lost the ability to choose your emotion.

    Some may say we are determined by our genes or diseases that are influenced by the weather. But there is still some space to respond and choose a way to use your willpower in a positive way. SO go ahead and let the weather take away your choice...its up to you...

  20. I've always subscribed to the theory that there is no such thing as bad weather...only different kinds of good weather.


  21. The online sailing magazine Three Sheets Northwest has been doing some good coverage of this story, fyi. It's their featured article today:


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

More Typical Spring Temperatures Will Save Washington and California's Cherry Crop this Year

Last year was a cherry disaster for the West Coast and the key driver was the cool/wet weather late last winter and spring in California.   ...