Coastal Radar Arrives

September 22, 2011

We finally received our first returns from the Ocean Shores radar site in the past 24 hours.  It will be officially operational about a week from now.  It’s located somewhere between Copalis Beach, Ocean Shores, and Hoquiam, on a place called Langley Hill that no one has heard of, but Ocean Shores is the closest well-known town.  This is the first radar located on the coastline north of Eureka, California.  Now it’s not quite God’s gift to Northwest Weather forecasting…I don’t want to imply we’ll have perfect forecasts in the future (like you were even thinking that…).  But here’s how I see it helping:

1.  A much better view of cold fronts coming in from the northwest.

2. We’ll be able to see exactly where low pressure centers are that move offshore near Tillamook, Astoria, or Ocean Shores…all the way up to Cape Flattery.  And we’ll be able to see that clearly 100+ miles offshore.

3.  Vastly improved look at showers/rain on the North Oregon Coast and Long Beach (in our viewing area).  The Portland radar has significant gaps at the lowest scan looking to the west and northwest.

4.  Vastly improved look at showers coming across the Willapa Hills towards Longview;  it drives me nuts when I see a wall of rain suddenly appear in a line from Longview to Olympia heading from west to east.

5.  With the polarimetric scanning, we should know what the snow level is offshore (and onshore) as those cold showers and fronts come in from the northwest.

Now we just need decent radar coverage over NOAA’s new home port down in Newport…there is no good low-level coverage from the Central Oregon Coast down to Brookings.  But that seems extremely unlikely with our current economic climate of course.

Enjoy the next two days (the last two) of summery weather.  All models show a cold front coming in on Sunday.  It may not be the beginning of an extended period of heavy rain, but we may not see 80+ again this season.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen