CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Well I sure learned a valuable lesson recently. Contacting your Senator and/or your Representative really does make a difference!
Several weeks ago I was contacted by Meteorologist Van Denton of WGHP in Winston-Salem, NC. Van had bumped into Senator Richard Burr when he was passing through their television station and Van asked the Senator if he would be receptive to an appeal for the installation of another National Weather Service (NWS) Doppler Radar in western North Carolina.
Many areas around Winston-Salem are only getting fringe coverage from the radar in Raleigh and those problems extend across the entire western half of North Carolina with the worst areas in northwestern North Carolina which comprise a significant portion of the WBTV viewing area.
Senator Burr was very receptive and Van subsequently called me to solicit my support and draft an appeal to the Senator.
But to my very pleasant surprise, Senator Burr jumped on it and quickly pulled Congressman Robert Pittenger into the loop so they could introduce identical bills in both the House and the Senate to help expedite the process. The name of the bill is: Metropolitan Weather Hazard Protection Act.
I received an update from Jamie Bowers, who works on Mr. Pittenger's staff and the bill will come up for a vote in early September.
In essence it mandates that any metropolitan area in the United States with a population of 700,000 or greater not directly covered by a single site Doppler radar be upgraded to meet that criteria. Columbus, OH is the other city in the country that would immediately see a new radar if this passes.
From that point forward, any metropolitan area that reaches that population threshold would then qualify for their own radar.
If the bill passes, and the President signs it, the time frame from passage to an operational Doppler Radar is stipulated at 450 days, a little more than a year.
If you asked me to hazard a guess, I am thinking the radar would be located somewhere in the Salisbury/Statesville region which would blanket the mountains along with the Hickory and Charlotte areas with even more radar coverage.
We have been fortunate in the greater Charlotte area to be overlapped by a network of five different NWS Doppler radars. But If you ask me, no amount of radar coverage is too much!