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Author Topic: Radar Locations Wish List  (Read 213 times)

hobsini2

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Radar Locations Wish List
« on: October 17, 2020, 09:12:41 PM »

I am was a meteorology major in college and an amateur storm chaser for the last 20 years.  One thing that I have found really annoying in some parts of the country is the lack of official NWS radar sites. There are dead zones in places where tornadoes are frequent. Boise City, OK and Tucumcari, NM come to mind.

This is a map of the current NWS radar sites in the US.
https://roc.noaa.gov/WSR88D/Maps.aspx

The areas in light yellow have really good coverage. The darker yellow or gold is ok coverage. The light blue is bad coverage. The white is no coverage.
Some of these sites are used in association with the Dept. of Defense (Air Bases mainly). A few are through the FAA (Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico).
The best range at this time with the technology is generally between 20 (because of ground clutter) and 120 miles from the radar location (because you start to get "range folding").
This is why the actual radar sites are well outside of a city. For example, Chicago's location is in Romeoville. Milwaukee's is in Sullivan.

Here is the list of sites.
https://roc.noaa.gov/WSR88D/Program/NetworkSites.aspx

So with that in mind, in my next post, I will post a map with current locations and where I think new ones should be.

Stay tuned.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2020, 10:13:11 PM by hobsini2 »
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Re: Radar Locations Wish List
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2020, 11:08:07 PM »

The best range at this time with the technology is generally between 20 (because of ground clutter) and 120 miles from the radar location (because you start to get "range folding").

There's also the issue that the radar beam's height above the surface increases with distance from the radar, both due to the curvature of the Earth and because it's usually tilted at 0.5 degrees above the ground. So as you get farther from the radar site, the radar will start to only see the upper portions of storms, and at enough distance it might miss some low-topped storms entirely.

In addition to the much smaller population densities, one of the main reasons coverage is not great in a lot of the west is because of mountains, which block lower portions of the radar beam. It can get quite difficult to find a site where there will be unobstructed views in most or all directions - and the suitable sites that do exist are often too high to be all that useful. For example, the Cedar City, UT radar site is over 10,000 feet above sea level (more than 5000 feet above nearby valley floors) which makes that radar useless for low-level storm analysis.

I've actually talked to some of the meteorologists at the NWS office in Salt Lake City about this. They would love nothing more than another radar site somewhere northeast of Price, and sites near Delta and the Four Corners would also be quite useful. The main issue, as is usually the case in government, is $$$$$$. Radars cost a lot, and the federal government isn't really all that interested in dropping a bunch of money on a radar that might improve coverage for a few thousand people in the middle of the desert. In fact, in order to get the current WSR-88D network funded in the first place, the NWS had to lead Congress into believing the radars would be more effective than they actually are.

epzik8

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Re: Radar Locations Wish List
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2020, 07:03:22 AM »

I want a better one on the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
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Re: Radar Locations Wish List
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2020, 06:47:56 PM »

Ideas by state:
Arkansas
El Dorado

Iowa
Mason City

Michigan
Manistee
Sault Ste. Marie

Missouri
Kirksville
Poplar Bluff

Montana
Glendive

Nebraska
Neligh
Scottsbluff

New Mexico
Farmington

North Dakota
Dickinson

Ohio
Lima

Oregon
Bend

South Dakota
Pierre

Texas
Alpine
Laredo
Lufkin
Paris

Wisconsin
Rhinelander

Wyoming
Gillette
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I-55

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Re: Radar Locations Wish List
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2020, 07:43:46 PM »

As James Spann said, we need a radar in Meridian, MS.

I'd also like to see one in Lima, OH.

Missouri
Poplar Bluff
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CoreySamson

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Re: Radar Locations Wish List
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2020, 04:15:23 PM »

I would fill in any dead spots in Dixie Alley or Tornado Alley where supercells are common, so I would advocate for Baton Rouge and Guymon along with the others mentioned.

The mid-Texas coast could also use another one just in case one gets destroyed in a hurricane, as Lake Charles's did during Hurricane Laura. Maybe Yoakum or Victoria?
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I-55

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Re: Radar Locations Wish List
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2020, 04:48:39 PM »

I would fill in any dead spots in Dixie Alley or Tornado Alley where supercells are common, so I would advocate for Baton Rouge and Guymon along with the others mentioned.

The mid-Texas coast could also use another one just in case one gets destroyed in a hurricane, as Lake Charles's did during Hurricane Laura. Maybe Yoakum or Victoria?

Basically these regions need to have a radar positioned so that every square mile can be viewed in velocity mode without range folding. The south especially since its harder to get ground truth on these storms because of the hills and trees.
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