Very good news from Senator Maria Cantwell’s office today up in Washington. The much-needed coastal radar installation timing has been moved up! So now we only have to go 1 more winter with the status quo. The plan is for it to be operational 1 year from this Fall (2011). Here’s the press release. Basically a brand new weather survelliance radar will be put up on the Southwest Washington coast…the first coastal radar on the Pacific Northwest Coastline. A 2nd on the central Oregon coast is surely needed since we see very little below 10,000′. I posted about this last December here. Cliff Mass, my professor from the UW (20 years ago!) has been a big proponent of this, ever since a series of devastating windstorms and floods the last 5+ years up there. But this will give us some big help, especially since buoys recently have not been maintained well; most of the outer buoys were not operational this winter. By the time a low pressure system or area of strong wind hits the inner buoys it’s quite close to the coastline. If you want to see how bad the low-level radar coverage is…here’s my “tv weather graphics” version of what we currently see vs. what we should see below 10,000′ in the future. Most of the “main action” happens in the lowest part of the atmosphere, so you can see what a different it’ll make. Click on these for a better view. Note that we’ll finally see into the “Astoria Hole” and that huge gap over the Willapa Hills. It’s always been annoying when a wall of rain suddenly appears just west of Longview as it moves inland to the north of the Metro Area. Also, with those cold wintertime fronts that come in from the northwest, we’ll have a much better idea when the rain is about to hit the north Oregon Coast.
Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen