CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Congressman Robert Pittenger introduced a bill Thursday to help Charlotte get its own National Weather Service Doppler radar facility. This comes after no warning was given for a 2012 tornado that damaged a Charlotte neighborhood.
Meteorologists believe signals from the Greenville-Spartenburg National Weather Service Doppler radar facility, that covers the Charlotte area, are too weak to provide adequate coverage by the time they reach Charlotte.
Meteorologist believe those signals are too weak to provide adequate coverage by the time they reach Charlotte.
In 2012, the National Weather Service reportedly missed signal of a tornado developing and didn't issue a warning until 10 minutes after the tornado touched down. The radar coverage issue also issued a warning for the wrong neighborhood in 2013.
On Thursday, Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) introduced the Metropolitan Weather Hazards Protection Act (H.R. 3538). Greensboro Congresswoman Alma Adams is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
The bill 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.
If the bill passes, the National Weather Service would be required to have an operational Doppler radar facility in Charlotte within 450 days of the bill becoming law.
The Metropolitan Weather Hazards Protection Act is only based on population and is not specific to Charlotte. Columbus, OH is the other city in the country that would immediately see a new radar if this passes and other cities would be covered as their populations grow.
WBTV's Eric Thomas was one of two meteorologist that went to Senator Richard Burr and then Robert Pittenger to ask for this legislation. Thomas said they were both receptive. He and Van Denton of WGHP sent proposals.
"It's not every day I hold my hand out asking someone to spend 15 million dollars," Thomas wrote in a blog post. "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.
"Politics should never trump safety," said Congressman Pittenger. "This legislation removes politics from the placement of National Weather Service radar facilities with common sense standards to make sure radar facilities follow the population, not the powerful politician."
Each radar facility would cost about $15 million, which will be fully offset by trimming waste elsewhere in the budget, according to Pittenger.
Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis introduced companion legislation in the Senate on Thursday.