If You Don’t Like the Weather, Wait Five Minutes

May 17, 2023

Lots of changes are coming to the Durango-La Plata County Airport, including a new radar project that brings more targeted forecasting to the Four Corners area. The airport is working with Baron Weather to install the new radar system, filling a gap in weather forecasting systems in the southwest. Previously, the closest weather station to the county was based out of Grand Junction, and the new radar will provide more accurate and up-to-date weather information for the Four Corners region. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Tafoya Barrett & Associates and Serious Texas BBQ

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In Colorado, the saying, "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes," rings very true. So does, "dress for all four seasons." For many, it's a habit to check the weather before planning any activities for the day, or the weekend. But, how often has the weather app or website shown pouring rain? But, outside it's a bluebird day. A new weather radar installation at the Durango La Plata Airport will help bring more accurate forecasting to the county, which may help you figure out if you need a winter coat and a windbreaker, or just the windbreaker. You're watching The Local News Network, brought to you by Tafoya Barrett and Associates, and Serious Texas Bar-B-Q. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

So, the project is actually to install a weather radar at the Durango County, Durango Airport. This weather radar is a C-band weather radar, and the project includes all the civil works, the infrastructure that's required to support the radar, the tower, the shelter that houses the equipment, and then to actually install the weather radar on the tower, and to install, commission, and train the customer on how to operate that weather radar. So, once we are finished with the project that that weather radar, and the data from that, is owned by the county. At that point in time, they're the owner, they run the radar, and then we will be providing support and maintenance on that weather radar for a extended period of time.

La Plata County partnered with Barron Weather to provide the radar at the Durango La Plata Airport, selected as it's already equipped with broadband, easy access, and power. Several other sites were considered, but ultimately discarded in favor of the airport. As for the benefits of having a radar more immediate to the area, it helps to understand some of the mechanics of weather radar.

The weather radar is what detects the precipitation that's actually falling from the skies. So, it helps with, you know, with things such as, "is it actually raining or snowing now?" with warnings that need to go out, with understanding how much precipitation is falling. Okay? So, that's what a weather radar does. It detects precipitation falling from the clouds, and what we expect to be reaching the ground. Up until this point, the La Plata County has been utilizing the radar that's part of the National Weather Service, the National Weather Service Radar, that's located in Grand Junction, which is about a hundred miles away from La Plata County. So, there are two issues with that. A radar at that distance is, at a hundred miles it's roughly detecting precipitation, it's detecting at 10,000 feet or above. So, it's not actually able to see near the ground. So, what it's doing is it's detecting precipitation at 10,000 feet or above at that distance, at roughly a hundred miles. So, is all that precipitation reaching the ground? Only ground troops can tell you, because the radar beam is so high at that point in time. So, that's one of the downfalls with utilizing radar at a hundred miles away. The second is, there's a lot of mountains in Colorado, and that radar beam, at times, is obstructed by the mountains, and can't detect precipitation. So, the idea with this is that there's a radar that's located in the county. We're able to detect the precipitation near the ground, where it's actually reaching the ground, and you wouldn't have all the obstructions with mountains.

The radar system in Grand Junction essentially can't tell someone in Durango or Bayfield if rain or snow is in fact landing on the ground from a hundred miles away. Knowing how much precipitation has actually made it to the ground, has a major implications from an environmental standpoint. It aids in flood mitigation, and water management, but also provides information about snow pack levels, and runoff for the region. With the location at the airport, the radar will also assist in providing accurate and up-to-date information for flights coming in and out of Durango, assisting in daily airport functions. Construction on the radar is planned to be completed by March, 2024, provided parts and supplies are available for the duration of installation. At that point, weather data from the Baron Weather Radar will be added to the network of Weather Radar Systems across the US, allowing entities like the National Weather Service to access the data, and use it for its forecasting. Learn more about the radar project, and other updates at the Durango Lala County airport, at DurangoLocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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