September 21, 2011

The Big Day Arrives. The Washington Coastal Radar is Operational!

Today I received a wonderful email from Brad Colman, head of the Seattle National Weather Service Forecast Office:   the new coastal radar, located just north of Hoquiam, is now fully operational and the data is flowing to the outside world.

This radar, on top of Langley Hill, has been updated to include dual-polarization, which will allow a whole new collection of valuable products.

Enough talk, here are some examples.  Today there is a band of precipitation offshore that is slamming into Vancouver Island.   Want to see?   Check below.  Pretty impressive...and you will notice the precipitation band stretches south to offshore of northern Oregon.

 Here is what the Seattle radar shows--virtually nothing over the offshore waters south of Forks.

Here is a long range view of precipitation from the new radar.   This is amazing!  We can see another band two-thirds up Vancouver Island--some of it 400 km (250 miles) away.

All this stuff is online for your viewing pleasure (click on links)

National Weather Service site
UW Radar Site
and many others will be available soon.

For the first time, residents of the Washington coast now have what many of us have enjoyed for years---real time radar coverage.  And just as important, we can finally see the details of storms approaching our coast.   There is only one thing left to do on the radar--to turn on the zero-degree elevation angle scanning that will greatly increase its offshore range and low-level coverage.  This crucial enhancement is scheduled to be initiated during the next two months.

For more background information check out the radar website:


  1. Thanks for the post professor Mass...Christmas has come early for all weather junkies west of the cascades.

  2. Yeah for Cliff! We are so fortunate to have Cliff as an advocate for needed and timely infrastructure improvements. This is a 'bridge to somewhere!'

  3. Right on. Ahead of schedule. I'm glad they're upgrading to dual polarization on the Seattle radar before storm season. I was wondering why Portland has been offline lately.

    One more us and professionals in the field like'll take a little while to observe the new radar, and make judgement calls on what will actually make it past the coast. I dunno if that makes sense.

    But I live east of the mts, and through nerdy experience, and can see how hard its raining in Port. or Seattle, and estimate how much it may or maynot rain at home. With the new radar, it'll detect annual rainfall areas 120+ inches to Seattles 40. Such a crazy range in just one radar scan.

  4. And best of all you can see all the regional radar at once at:

  5. My son and I hope the zero angle and dual polarization will be able to detect glass floats as they approach Copalis Beach this winter.

    Paul Middents

  6. What I'm interested in following this winter is the rainfall in Forks and the nearby river basins. We'll be able to see the yellows and reds on the maps. My friends in Sekiu will now be able to see graphically what's headed their way, too.

  7. This is amazing and again, I thank you for your leadership and advocacy for this radar system. Senator Cantwell also deserves our thanks (and will get my vote partially because of this project).

  8. Oh my God, it's raining in the Olympics! I think that's the first time I've ever seen that...

  9. Why doesn't the q13 radar from Gold Mountain and Neah Bay used? Seems like that would add to the weather coverage as well.

  10. Thanks again, Sen. Cantwell. We'll remember this come next Nov.

  11. It appears that the NWS hasn't linked the radar into their online weather products. For example, if you use the build-in lefthand navigation to go northeast of the Langley Hill radar, you're taken to the Seattle radar but then you can't get back without the use of your browser's back button.

    So while the new coastal radar is operational and putting out data, a vast majority of NWS consumers have no good way of getting to it.

  12. Aaron--that is partly because the radar does not officially go online til the 30th. That is the actual 'operational' day. Of course the radar is on, data is flowing, but clutter files and such have not been was scheduled right up til the day it is to become officially operational. Ribbon cutting is the 29th. So it wasn't supposed to be finished and operational yet--they finished the hardware and dual pol early, but software adjustments are not finished. I think it is a bigger job than you might imagine--just think of any data you can find as bonus data.

  13. Cliff - we need more info from you on our weather radar. Neither the UW nor the NWS radars seems to show the information from all our radars in WA, OR and BC. Why not? And where can we see what each radar sees by itself? And why is this information not available to us? Surely the popularity of your books and blog should be a clue that we residents of the Pacific NW are interested in all this.

  14. Sweet! It'll be interesting to watch how you guys use this new tool this upcoming winter.

  15. The new radar is a real treat. The NWS site states that the radar is measuring Base Reflectivity. Thus it seems to me that a reflectivity of zero should mean that no energy is being reflected back to the radar. Can you please explain what negative DBZ is? And when I look at the new radar why does the image show a negative DBZ? Thx.

  16. 74 deg at 4am in Bellingham, Wow!!

  17. Great news.

    Friday morning it is 70@ 6:30 AM in Bellingham.

    First of fall is warmer than summer.

  18. What I'll be looking forward to is any snow events -- to see the snow on radar, as it will often flow up from the southwest.

  19. Awesome!

    Butt, please, could you consult with the geography department and properly place Langley Hill near Copalis (Beach or Crossing is ok)?

    it is not in Hoquiam, Ocean City, Aberdeen or any of the numerous places I see referenced. It id near Copalis Beach.

    Accuracy is everything, right?
    Thank you.


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