Progress on the New Coastal Radar

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For those of us who worked on getting a coastal radar for over a decade, it is a great satisfaction to see work progressing rapidly now.

The Langley Hill site, 3 miles east of Copalis Beach on the WA coast, is now being prepared. The trees were cut down, the site was leveled, and the concrete pad with bolts for the tower have been installed (see images).

This project is moving quickly, as it must if the radar is going to be operational by the end of September. I am now building a web site, dedicated to the new radar, that will have constant updates. Not quite done, but a lot of content is already there:

One reason we need the radar is that the offshore buoys are rapidly destroyed by winter storms. Here is the latest buoy map, the red boxes represent buoys that are broken or lost.

Wintertime problems with the buoys was one reason that the crabbers and other fisherfolk were strong supporters of the radar.

At the UW we are now preparing a next generation data assimilation system that will be ready to take in the coastal and offshore radar data and use it to improve forecasts throughout the region. I am hopeful this system will greatly enhance 0-12 hr forecasts, including snow events like those of last winter where the position and intensity of coastal lows were important and often poorly forecast.

Finally, let me note the amazing amount of snowpack we have right now and I wanted to share a startling graphic. Here is the cumulative snowpack supplying Seattle's watershed (Cedar/Tolt combination) this season. The snowpack is JUST peaking now...and it is currently as high as it has been all winter. In a normal year it peaks April 1---we are peaking May 1-ONE MONTH LATE! And the snowpack is clearly well above normal now. Just as amazing is that we were well BELOW NORMAL on 1 March. The last two months we have seen a record-breaking accumulation.

No guilt in watering my lawn this year. But first it has to get warm enough for my grass seed to germinate.

Sustainable Seattle will be hosting a symposium about the effects of climate change on the Pacific Northwest's rivers, glaciers, snowpacks and shorelines, and the impact of all this on our infrastructure and communities. The event will be on May 12 in Magnuson Park, featuring a range of speakers from government, academia and the private sector. See for more details, including the full list of speakers and online registration.
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