Daily Archives: January 16, 2010

Worth the $$?: New Radar to Look for Storms 150 Miles Out into the Pacific


This is a measure I enthusiastically support. While 7 million dollars worth, a coastal radar for the Pacific Northwest is a much needed chunk of technology meteorologists have gone without for years. According to Cliff Mass and the Tacoma News Tribune:

“Th[is] region’s storms more than rival the hurricanes and nor’easters elsewhere in the nation. A storm on Columbus Day in 1962, considered the most intense nontropical storm to hit the U.S. in a century, had sustained winds along the coast of 150 mph, with gusts to 180.”

Cliff Mass says about the storm, ““If it hit today it would cause Katrina-like damage. We get some of the most intense storms in the world [and] we have no radar.”

In fact, Washington State is the only coastal area in the continental U.S. with no radar coverage.

We can think of it this way: right now, meteorologists in the Pacific Northwest are looking at the ocean through a tiny hole. With the addition of a coastal radar, this tiny hole will turn into a massive window, giving scientists a much better handle on storms in this area. Forecast accuracy would improve overall, but it is also not expected that this new radar solve ALL forecasting problems.

Conversely, a commenter on the News Tribune article says (and what I think is meant to be taken humorously):

“This new weather radar won’t just…rob us of our unpredictable weather, it will deprive us of our heritage. We must stop this insidious attempt at making us just another place where picnics can be planned precisely. We must preserve the mystery of northwest weather!” And in a way…I kind of agree. To read the full news story, click here.

So what are your thoughts? This project is already underway thanks to President Obama’s signing of the 2010 Appropriation Bill with 7 million dollars for a coastal radar for the central Washington Coast, but do you think it’s worth the money? Or would it be better used somewhere else?

As for the weather in the short term, it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day today, but clouds are increasing and will continue to do so throughout the afternoon. Rain, while not as intense as this past week, will continue through the upcoming week.

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at: forecastingkitsap@live.com