Charlotte’s prospects for obtaining a sophisticated radar system to warn residents of approaching tornadoes and other severe weather got an updraft Tuesday with an amendment that Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger inserted in a House spending bill.
The Charlotte metro area, with a population of 2.4 million people, is the nation’s largest without a Doppler radar system. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has resisted calls to install a $15 million system, despite at least three instances in the last four years in which existing equipment either failed to identify tornadoes or warned the wrong neighborhood.
Under Pittenger’s amendment, the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would be required within six months to conduct a study of its latest generation radar coverage below 6,000 feet in altitude to identify coverage gaps.
Pittenger has spearheaded a push to address the problem, along with Republican Sen. Richard Burr. In the spending bill, Pittenger initially sought to identify Charlotte and surrounding counties, central Washington state, northwestern New Mexico and Columbus, Ohio, among locations as areas needing focus, but members of the House Appropriations Committee chose to drop those references.
Pittenger said he is confident that the final wording “would include Charlotte without having to specifically identify the city.”
“The committee’s decision to include our radar request in the upcoming appropriations bill is a major step forward,” he said, “and we will continue to pursue every prudent angle until we find a solution.”
Greg Gordon: 202-383-0005, @firstname.lastname@example.org