The Coastal Radar is Real!

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Today, President Obama signed the 2010 Appropriation Bill with 7 million dollars for a coastal radar for the central Washington Coast. That plus the funds already made available in the stimulus funding earlier this year (2 million dollars) will completely fund all costs for purchasing and installing a high-powered, state-of-the-art radar that will greatly improve our ability to see weather systems approaching our state. It will allow us to clearly determine the amount of precipitation falling on the southwest side of the Olympics and over the mountains of SW Washington. Its view will extend to the entrance of the Strait of Juan De Fuca and the Columbia River. By defining the weather coming in from the west, it will result in improved prediction over the entire state.

A great deal of credit is owed to Senator Maria Cantwell, who did the heavy lifting in securing the funding for this critical piece of meteorological infrastructure. And the rest of our state delegation was highly supportive. Her press release is found at:

Using the earlier stimulus funding, a National Weather Service site survey team has been hard at work evaluating potential sites, and a public report is due very soon, with three possible sites. I have seen draft documents and the locations look very good.

The radar will be a powerful "S-band" radar like the Camano Island radar, but it will be a modern device that has the polarization option that will be added to the current radars. This option allows much better determination of precipitation rate and the type of precipitation. The radar will become part of the National Weather Service network, and many of hope its configuration will be optimized for use in our area. That includes zero degree elevation angle scans to see further and up and down scans (RHI scans) to provide more information of atmospheric structure and freezing level.

The current timelines for the radar is for installation in late 2012. A number of us believe that a more aggressive schedule would allow the radar to be installed 6 months to a year earlier.

This is a major advance for my profession and the safety/protection of our region.

For more information, check out my coastal weather radar web page:
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