Weather radar may expand in BowmanSome residents in southwest North Dakota and southeast Montana who only get accurate weather information in the summer may soon have more options.
Some residents in southwest North Dakota and southeast Montana who only get accurate weather information in the summer may soon have more options. Officials are looking at ways to fill the hole in the weather radar.
There is a radar system in Bowman, said Darin Langerud, director of the North Dakota Atmospheric Resource Board, which owns and operates the equipment.
However, it’s only turned on for about four months of the year and is not tied to any weather reporting service.
“The radar is in place to support the cloud seeding program in Bowman and Slope counties during the summer months,” Langerud said. “Recent upgrades to the radar will allow us to operate it without having someone there ... so it makes it more cost effective and possible, perhaps, to operate it year-round and provide additional coverage.”
Other radar systems in North Dakota and Montana are too far away to accurately measure weather conditions in that area, said Dean Pearson, Bowman County emergency manager.
“Because of the curvature of the earth, the further out the radar shoots, the higher up the cloud it’s going to go because the earth is falling away from it,” Person said. “Most severe storms form in the bottom of the cloud.”
Medora Stevenson, who is also working to resolve the issue as part of a leadership class through North Dakota State University, said people residing in the radar hole get frustrated about the lack of weather information.
“You can look on the radar for the National Weather Service and it will look like we’re getting nothing and everywhere else is getting snow,” Stevenson said. “You can look outside and it’s snowing out and it’s not showing anything.”
Cities that do have accurate radar information may benefit from the Bowman radar as well, she said.
“A lot of the storms that come through here go up to Bismarck or Dickinson, some of the more populated areas, so for them to be able to look at what’s coming towards them would be a good benefit too,” Stevenson said.
When the radar is turned on in the summer, area residents can view the radar online and Langerud said they could continue to all year if funding for the project can be raised.
“We also have the capability of sharing the data in other ways that would allow the weather services and other users to be able to gain access to it and utilize the data more effectively,” Langerud said.
Stevenson said those involved in trying to get the radar turned on year-round are looking into funding options. She said costs to keep the equipment running constantly have not been pinned down, but estimated it would cost about $30,000 a year.
“We’re still in the early stages of putting together the mechanics of making this all work,” Langerud said.
It is unclear how soon the radar would turn on full-time since funding hasn’t been established.