Oregon Coast & Central Oregon: Worst Radar Coverage in The Country

November 14, 2014

Cliff Mass up at the UW just blogged about something the meteorological community already knows in Oregon…we’ve been left out in the cold with radar coverage.  Take a look at the image:


Isn’t that terrible?  A lot of “weather action” goes on in the lowest 5,000′ of the atmosphere.  From Newport south along the coast we can’t see ANYTHING below about 8,000′.  That is the worst coastal radar coverage in the entire country!  Amusing that NOAA moved their headquarters to Newport; right in that location!  One would think that might have inspired a change but it hasn’t so far.  Another spot is central Oregon.  In fact during most snowstorms in central Oregon the radar is blank…like yesterday.  They had 4-7″ of snow and we wouldn’t know it except for observations on the ground.  It’s amazing that 100,000+ people live in the area yet they don’t have decent radar coverage.  It is true that in the summer we can basically see where the thunderstorms are over there due to the height of the storms, but low level details (below 6,000′) can’t be detected in the Redmond/Bend areas.  There is actually a 3rd populated are that has pretty bad coverage…Eugene.  The radar beam is way up around 10,000′ down there as well.  You’ll notice when weather systems approach from the south, even though it may be pouring in Eugene, real light stuff just gradually shows up on the radar. That’s pathetic as well.

What to do about it?  Contact your senator/congressman I suppose.  Cliff implies that Oregon’s delegation wasn’t interested 7 years ago when the coastal radar in Washington was first discussed.  At the time he was pushing hard for two radars, one at Ocean Shores (where it is now), and one near Florence (OR).  A third on Pine Mtn. SE of Bend would have been nice!  But that’s just dreaming.  Apparently due to lack of interest he gave up pushing for the Oregon coastal radar.  It would be interesting to see if there would be more interest now that NOAA is centered down there.

Now that you’re depressed about our radar coverage…Enjoy the sunshine this weekend!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen