Eric Thomas: Weather Radar Summit with the National Weather Service

Eric Thomas: Weather Radar Summit with the National Weather Service

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Three years ago, in the summer of 2015 Van Denton, Chief Meteorologist at WGHP in Greensboro/Winston-Salem, met with Senator Richard Burr and asked for his help to improve weather radar coverage in the western half of North Carolina.

Senator Burr was impressed and asked for a written outline and description of the concerns.

At that point, Van contacted me and asked if I would also submit a draft highlighting areas that could benefit from additional radar coverage.  I happily agreed.

You have no doubt heard us here at WBTV celebrate the doppler radar network which currently covers our 22 county region with five different radars scanning the skies, including one located right here in Mecklenburg county.  See the story image for an example.

So why are we pushing for more?  Why not?  New technology is always coming along, and the focus now is on networking lower power doppler radars providing detailed data at the neighborhood level in remote locations.

Almost every region in the country has 'radar gaps' and North Carolina is no exception.

The meeting today was a gathering of National Weather Service (NWS) Federal Officials from Washington, DC, regional NWS officials, city and county officials from Charlotte/Mecklenburg, Congressman Robert Pittenger and his staff, Senator Richard Burr's staff, and local meteorologists from the academic, industrial and broadcast communities.

Congressman Pittenger and Senator Burr wrote a bill mandating the government take action and improve the radar coverage in North Carolina.

The legislation passed the US House and Senate and was signed by President Trump.

Today we learned that the NWS will improve their radar scanning strategies with the current radars in operation.

That was welcome news to those of us in the room, but frankly we were hoping they would go farther and pledge to pay for this new technology that is so promising.

That didn't happen.  So it appears we will have to explore a public/private partnership if we hope to fund this radar network anytime soon.

Our local officials were very impressed by this technology, so while there is little hope for the federal government to underwrite this project, I was encouraged by the response of both our local government officials as well as the representatives from the private community who were very motivated to see this become a reality.

We will certainly continue to update you on any progress we make.

If you'd like to learn more about the CASA radar network, or interested in any sponsorship opportunities, go here.

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