Thanks to the tireless efforts of our two U.S. Senators — particularly our junior senator, Maria Cantwell — the Pacific Northwest finally has a state-of-the-art Doppler radar station located on the coast, capable of assisting meteorologists in preparing more accurate and useful forecasts for our region.
The radar station, which has been undergoing construction since mid-spring, was activated for the first time two weeks ago on August 8th. Because it is in testing mode and will continue to be until the end of September, forecasters do not have continuous access to data from the system. But when it is on, it sends information to National Weather Service personnel in Seattle and Portland.
Today, it produced some nifty images showing that a strong front is moving in. Here is an image recorded not long before 9:30 AM, which clearly depicts heavy precipitation occurring just offshore:
Testing on the new Langley Hill station should be done in time for the storm season this year, which means that weather forecasts for the coming winter should be more accurate than they have been in the past.
Though we have long had a Doppler radar installation on Camano Island, it can’t see much of the coast due to the Olympic Mountains. That has left coastal towns and inland cities vulnerable to incoming storms.
With this new station, we’ll be able to be better prepared.
“Too often in the past, our weather radar coverage gap meant that forecasters didn’t have the most complete data set possible to help Pacific Northwest communities prepare for big storms,” noted Senator Cantwell in a news release celebrating the station’s activation.
“This new, state-of-the-art radar technology will enable Washingtonians to better prepare for the impact of the big Pacific storms on businesses and homes.”
Readers interested in seeing a chronology of the radar station’s development and construction should check out the comprehensive overview that Cliff Mass has assembled at his University of Washington site. It’s extremely informative.
Congratulations are in order to National Weather Service on getting this new radar installation up and running, and again to Senator Maria Cantwell for securing the funding. This is a vital emergency preparedness investment that has long been overdue. This radar station is an excellent example of a crucial public service that was only made possible thanks to our tax dollars.
When we pool our resources together to create a common wealth, we can do amazing things. Kudos to everyone involved in this project!