Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow totals and radar limitations

Down south they are getting pounded.  Provo Canyon reporting 62" at 6100 feet for the 90-hour period ending at 6 am this morning.  The southern Wasatch Front lowlands are also getting into the action:  Levan 28", Nephi 26", Santaquin 22" as of noon, most this falling in the past 24 hours.

These storms drive me nuts and probably every other meteorologist in Utah too.  Our radar system provides  no coverage of winter storms over central Utah!  It's too far from the Salt Lake, Cedar City, and Grand Junction radars.  Ugh!

This makes it really tough to monitor what's happening in Millard, Juab, Sanpete, Severe, Emery, and a few other counties.  In particular, much of I-15 and I-70 are "terra incognita." You can only do so much with weather cameras, point observations, and spotter reports.  Radar provides critical time-space information for storm monitoring and nowcasting.


  1. Try forecasting snow in Alaska's colossal areas without radar coverage! http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/home_radar.php

    Webcams are often the preferred/only way to determine snowfall totals thanks to the extensive FAA webcam network here in AK, except it's kind of difficult this time of year with the limited daylight.

  2. I share your frustration! On the broadcast end, we're always hearing from people in Central or Eastern Utah about... 'why don't you ever show the radar over my town'... etc. I'm challenged on what kind of framing to use on our on-air radar because of all the 'holes'. Do you think we could ever see additional radars added?

  3. Grant - There are probably a few possibilities here. One is some level of action by our congressional delegation. This is what happened in the State of Washington where they are getting a sorely needed coastal radar.

    The other is to wait and hope that there's interest in investing in lower cost, gap-filling, radars. Such radars will likely become a good option for our state. See http://www.casa.umass.edu/

  4. It's neat that such rural areas exist that they don't even have radar coverage!