New weather station to help with SW #Colorado “blind spot”

Graphic credit Cliff Vancura via The Durango Herald and Rocky Mountain PBS.

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo) via The Cortez Journal:

It’s official: A permanent weather radar system for Southwest Colorado and the Four Corners is on its way.

Recently, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs awarded $1.7 million in funding for permanent radar system, clearing the biggest obstacle in the project’s path.

“Funding was the big piece, and the state has been incredibly committed to and generous with this project because they recognize the need and value for all of Southwest Colorado, and beyond,” Megan Graham, spokeswoman for La Plata County.

The Four Corners has long been known as a blind spot when it comes to weather and radar modeling, as major hubs in Albuquerque, Grand Junction and Flagstaff take in data at elevations too high to accurately hone in on areas around Durango.

In Grand Junction, for instance, the radar system on Grand Mesa can’t pick up storms that come into the Four Corners at elevations below 28,000 feet, which causes weather forecasters to miss a good amount of incoming storms.

For years, there has been a desire to bring in a radar system for the region. But the need became critical after the 416 Fire last summer created unprecedented flood danger when storms hit fire’s burn scar.

DOLA recognized this need in granting the money.

“It’s very important for you guys to be able to know with radar what’s coming,” said Natriece Bryant, a spokeswoman for DOLA, “because notification is key to be able to prepare and recover when necessary.”

Chuck Stevens, interim La Plata County manager, said there’s no set timeline for when the radar system will be functional, but those invested in the project would like to break ground this spring…

The next big hurdle is finding the right spot for the radar system, Graham said.

The radar system needs to be set up in a location that both maximizes coverage while at the same time, is near infrastructure and utilities…

A group was formed, comprised of members of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, La Plata County, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, to select a location that makes the most sense, Graham said.

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