Rep. Robert Pittenger

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Congressman Robert Pittenger HeadshotWASHINGTON, DC – The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday adopted language proposed by Congressman Robert Pittenger requiring the Secretary of Commerce to study National Weather Service radar coverage gaps and quickly develop a plan to fix deficiencies.

The language is included in the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill which will be voted on by the full U.S. House of Representatives in the next few weeks.

“Charlotte is the largest city in the United States without local radar coverage from the National Weather Service.  This is an important safety issue,” said Congressman Pittenger (NC-09).  “The House Appropriations Committee decision to include our radar request in the upcoming Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill is a major step forward, and we will continue to pursue every prudent angle until we find a solution.”

Currently, the Charlotte region is covered by the National Weather Service radar in Greer, S.C.  Those signals are too high up in the atmosphere (8,000 feet) to provide adequate coverage by the time they reach Charlotte.

As a result, the National Weather Service missed signs of a developing tornado in 2012 and didn’t issue a warning until 10 minutes after that tornado damaged a neighborhood in northeast Charlotte.  The inadequate radar coverage also resulted in a warning for the wrong neighborhood in 2013.

Text of the language can be found here, on page 21 of the Draft Committee Report, and is also copied below.

Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are also involved in this legislation, working to include similar language in the Senate version of the bill.

From the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill:

NEXRAD Coverage Report.—NOAA shall complete a study on gaps in NEXRAD coverage. Within this study, NOAA shall identify areas in the United States with limited or no NEXRAD coverage below 6,000 feet above ground level of the surrounding terrain. NOAA should identify the effects on prediction of improved radar detection, and identify additional sources of observations for high impact weather that are currently available and operational for such areas. NOAA shall assess the feasibility and advisability of efforts to integrate and upgrade Federal radar capabilities and incorporate other non-NOAA radars into NWS operations in such areas, and the cost and timeline for carrying out such radar improvements. NOAA shall submit the study findings to the Committee within 180 days of enactment of this Act. Not later than 30 days after the completion of the study, NOAA shall develop a plan to improve radar coverage in the identified areas.