Cantwell Hails Funding for Washington State Doppler Radar

Obama Signature Finalizes Funds to Solve Washington Weather Radar Gap

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the full funding for a new Doppler radar system in Washington state.  The funds for the new system were included in the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act signed by President Barack Obama.


“This funding is a crucial victory for Washington state,” said Cantwell.  “Doppler coverage in Washington state is incredibly inadequate and leaves residents vulnerable to storms and severe weather.  We face some of the most severe storms in the nation, yet have the worst radar coverage of any coastal state.  The new system will be able to track storms over 100 miles off our coast, allowing for more accurate short-term forecasting.  Washingtonians will be able to better prepare themselves for the impact of massive storms, protecting our local businesses and homes.”    


The $7 million included in the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act, along with a $2 million down-payment previously secured by Cantwell, is enough to provide Washington state with a full-blown Doppler coastal radar system. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is working to locate an appropriate site for the radar as well as to develop the radar’s technical requirements.  The National Weather Service hopes to have the system installed and fully operational sometime in 2012.


For years, Cantwell, Chair of the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee, has advocated for a better weather radar system to provide Washington state communities with more accurate information about severe weather and storms that could impact local economies, businesses, homes, and safety. 


In May, she released a study that found a gap in coastal radar coverage makes it difficult for National Weather Service forecasters in Washington state to track large, dangerous storms.  Additional radar coverage would improve public safety and reduce negative economic consequences from hazardous weather through improved real-time analysis and prediction, the report concluded.  In the fiscal year 2008 Omnibus bill, Cantwell secured funding for NOAA to complete this study.