Why we need Doppler Radar closer to Rowan County

Thursday, February 4, 2016 - 7:52pm

Just yesterday strong winds pushed through areas in southern Davidson County.  These winds caused structural damage and knocked over trees. Now I realize this is Rowan County and you may wonder why I am talking about our neighbors to the north. The reason I am opening with that point is simply this. It is very possible a more reliable weather response could have been made by the National Weather Service about the potential for severe weather occurring in that area. Much like Davidson County, Rowan County is on the outer edge of the weather service regions that cover our counties. The National Weather Service Doppler radars that are the closest are over 100 miles away from any border of Rowan County.

The reason why this is a significant problem. As you can see by the illustration below. Due to the natural curvature of the earth. The further away from the radar you get. The beam gets weaker and could very well shoot right over the storms in our area.


The big issue with that is. If a severe storm or tornado is under that radar beam. The National Weather Service doesn't know its there. In 2012, the National Weather Service reportedly missed signal of a tornado developing and didn't’t issue a warning until 10 minutes after the tornado touched down. The radar coverage issue also issued a warning for the wrong neighborhood in 2013. This is something that would certainly be avoided if a radar was much closer to the county. There have been some strides to get a Doppler radar built somewhere in the Charlotte region. Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) introduced the Metropolitan Weather Hazards Protection Act (H.R. 3538). Greensboro Congresswoman Alma Adams is a co-sponsor of the legislation. 

The bill mandates that any metropolitan area in the United States with a population of 700,000 or greater not directly covered by a single site Doppler radar be upgraded to meet that criteria.

If the bill passes, the National Weather Service would be required to have an operational Doppler radar facility in Charlotte within 450 days of the bill becoming law.

The Metropolitan Weather Hazards Protection Act is only based on population and is not specific to the Charlotte area.  Columbus, OH is the other city in the country that would immediately see a new radar if this passes and other cities would be covered as their populations grow.

Each radar facility would cost about $15 million, which will be fully offset by trimming waste elsewhere in the budget, according to Pittenger.

Now I know this may not be a popular decision for some folks. However, Gaps in radar coverage that currently exist for the area are putting residents in a potentially dangerous weather situation. There has been mention in the past that Rowan or Iredell County would be prime locations for the radar if the legislation passes. However, nothing concrete as this is still something that is only in preliminary conversations. 

As more information becomes available on this I will pass it along. I just wanted to share my feelings as to why i feel this is necessary for all of us living in these outlying counties. 

As always. Thank you for following Rowan County Weather!

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