Cantwell: President’s Budget Makes Doppler Radar a Priority for Washington State

President Obama’s Budget Includes $7 Million for Doppler Weather Radar System for Washington State

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that President Obama’s budget includes $7 million for a Doppler weather radar system for Washington state. This new system will be able to expand coverage up to 165 kilometers off Washington’s coast. For years, Cantwell, Chair of the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee, has been advocating for a better weather radar system in Washington state to be able to provide communities with better information about severe weather and storms that could impact the local economy, businesses, homes, and residents’ safety. Last year, she convened a listening session in Grays Harbor to hear from law enforcement and elected officials regarding the 2007 storms that caused untold millions of dollars in damage. “President Obama’s budget makes the safety and economic viability of Washington state businesses and residents a priority by including $7 million for a weather radar system,” said Cantwell. “Despite having the worst non-tropical storms in the nation, Washington State has the worst weather radar coverage of any U.S. coastline. This is just the beginning of a long-road ahead to secure funding for the system, but it’s a critical step, and I will continue pushing until we have a weather radar system that provides accurate and full-scale information about storms that could severely impact Washingtonians.” Each year, the president submits his budget to Congress which then uses it as a guide to fund programs and projects across federal government agencies. Cantwell will be working closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service to ensure that funds for the Doppler system are appropriated. Considering that the Washington coast experiences some of the strongest storms in the nation, with frequent hurricane force winds, often accompanied by flooding and landslides, the safety and economic needs of the region require adequate weather radar coverage. For example, a single radar on the central Washington coast could view storms over a hundred miles offshore. Considering the critical nature of weather for a wide range of Northwest industries like fishing, shipping, and timber the frequent use of coastal waters for military transport and military exercises, weather radar coverage for these areas must be addressed and solved. In the fiscal year 2008 Omnibus bill, Cantwell secured funding for NOAA to study how best to address the weather radar gap in Washington state. The findings of this report are expected to be released later this month. The $7 million included in the President’s budget, along with a $2 million down-payment secured by Cantwell, is enough to provide Washington state with a full- blown Doppler coastal radar system. # # #