Gap in Central Washington radar could soon be filled

By:  Kate Prengaman
Source: Yakima Herald-Republic

In a timely coincidence, a Senate committee approved a measure to improve the weather radar gap in Central Washington on the same day the region was dealing with flooding and mudslides that closed many mountain passes.

Sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the amendment to the Metropolitan Weather Hazards Protection Act directs the National Weather Service to study major gaps in Doppler Radar coverage and develop plans to fill those gaps.

A gap in coverage of these powerful radar systems runs along the east side of the Cascades, leaving communities such as Yakima, Wenatchee, and Okanogan County without the technology used to predict extreme weather in other places, according to a news release from Cantwell’s staff. Signals from the west side are blocked by the mountains.

“Better weather forecasting means first responders can better protect human life and property before and during wildfires and other natural disasters,” Cantwell said in a statement. “Closing this gap will provide the early warning needed to most effectively respond to wildfires, mudslides, flash floods and other severe weather threats facing Washington state.”

Other radar gaps identified in the proposal include northwest New Mexico and central Ohio.