Senator Cantwell gets $2 Million approved for Doppler Radar in SW Washington

 A U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee has approved a $2 million request from Sen. Maria Cantwell for a Doppler radar and other equipment needed to track weather patterns along Washington state's coastline. reads the first paragraph in an article at Daily World, an Aberdeen, WA newspaper.  

  Good news indeed! Especially to those of us in Southwest Washington counties who experienced the December 2007 storm (hurricane strength storm!) that flooded out Lewis County and had four counties in SW Washington declared FEMA disaster areas -  my county, Pacific, and neighboring counties, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Thurston.

A deserved shout out of thanks to Senator Cantwell.

read more below the fold

  The storm hit us in December and was unrelenting for almost 3 days.  For many, and for us in Pacific County, we found ourselves cut off and isolated from the rest of the state for several days without power, land line phones, cell phones, gasoline, or access to much in the way of help or services.  Which isn't to say that the Emergency Management Teams were not responsive; rather that the isolation was an outcome for several days.  You can read more about it at the Washblog story here .

  In March 2008, Senator Cantwell held a meeting of the minds roundtable in Aberdeen, WA to discuss the whys and wherefores of the storm.  What came out of that meeting was the lack of adequate Doppler Radar coverage to read the weather conditions in Southwest Washington.  

The Olympic Mountain Range and Willapa Hills (where we live) provide an interference that the current Doppler Radar located in Scappoose, Oregon is unable to read.  The only other Doppler Radar to cover reading weather conditions in Washington is located far north at Camano Island. Oh, and KING 5 TV news has it's own Doppler Radar that it purchased but it cannot read the weather conditions in SW Washington due to the natural terrain interference (Olympics and Willapa Hills).  

  Meanwhile California coastline, which is far less storm-laden than our own Washington coastline, has mulitiple Doppler Radars to read that coastline weather.  The inconsistency becomes more conspicuous as was evident in the powerful presentation given by University of Washington Professor Clifford Mass (see his website here) at the Senator Cantwell roundtable meeting held in March.  

  Arthur and I attended that meeting in March, as bloggers at Washblog, as residents of Pacific County directly affected by the storm, and as general public.  We were and are certainly not experts. I took notes, even had a brief interview shown by KIRO 7 TV, but I didn't get around to actually writing up the story at Washblog.  I did start to write it up here at WB, and can't recall for what reason I didn't conclude posting the actual story as I had the notes. Now I wish I had posted the story of the meeting.  

 So in the absence of having written up the story, here are excerpts from the article 'Doppler radar station funding clears one hurdle' at Daily World this weekend;


The request was spurred on by the savage December storm and intense lobbying by concerned residents as well as local community leaders. The approval is just the first step in what is usually a long process to get federal funding for practically anything these days, although the senator hopes the funding will make the final cut in a 2009 appropriations bill.

The Coastal Radar was one of the top priorities given to Sen. Patty Murray during a community forum immediately after the December storm. A few months later, Cantwell conducted her own forum on the issue at Grays Harbor College and residents again were given a chance to make their case, which was spearheaded by Professor Clifford Mass, of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Cantwell's Press Office said the funding was approved on Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Science, Justice and Related Agencies.

"Despite having the worst non-tropical storms in the nation, Washington state has the worst weather radar coverage of any U.S. coastline," Cantwell said in the press release announcing the news.

"Our nation's weather radar system has a gaping blind spot right over the outer coast of our state, placing our communities at risk and hindering the everyday lives of our citizens," she added. "Just last fall, Washington state experienced storms with hurricane-force winds and torrential rains that hit right in the heart of this blind spot. The funding passed today by the Senate Appropriations Committee is a major step toward solving this gap and better protecting Washington neighborhoods, businesses, and communities."

Cantwell's Office didn't say where the Doppler radar would be located, but the likely spot would be in the Westport-Grayland area, which would be able to catch weather patterns coming not only off the coast but in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the mouth of the Columbia River.

The fishing industry, in particular, has been lobbying hard for the doppler system for years now, citing the dangers of fishing off the coast without a clear warning of storms that could be coming on to the horizon.

Cantwell's Office noted that a single radar on the central Washington coast could view storms over a hundred miles offshore.

As an aside, I know my neighbors up in Mason County and Kitsap County on the Peninsula also  felt the effects of that storm in December.  I think with the sizeable, and unexpected flooding out in Lewis County which cut off I-5, some of our neighbors storm woes did not get much media coverage.  

On an upside to this storm, I read that some of the flooded out farmers in Lewis County are able to make a showing this season at the Olympia Public Market.  Why not pay a visit and make a special effort to purchase produce from the Lewis County vendors?

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This tidbit is a joke.

Maria Cantwell still has not decided to oppose the central policy of the Bush Administration and her rhetoric clearly supports John McCain's view of the Iraq war.

How will Southwest Washington enjoy the pollution on the Green and Cowlitz rivers from Cantwell-praised Dirk Kempthorne's approved mining near Mt. St. Helens?

With this radar project, Senator Cantwell didn't get as much funding for Washington state as the Administration wastes in graft and corruption in Iraq in a week.

A TRILLION dollars on the Iraq war: That's enough  to buy a personal, individual Doppler Radar for every single resident of Kitsap County, Mason County, Grays Harbor County, Pacific County, Wahkiakum County and Cowlitz County combined.

They could walk around with them like cell phones. Sure, it would be tough for the little kids to fit their personal Doppler Radars in their cubbies at school, but it's not much more absurd than what we've done with the money so far.

Should we add up how many hospitals Senator Cantwell could have secured for Southwest Washington with the Iraq money? How about roads? How about flood insurance? How about health insurance?

Has Senator Cantwell signed on to Darcy Burner's  Iraq plan or does she still have a more...McCain-ish position?

But hey, maybe this radar is some Air Force Surplus that Senator Cantwell got cheap.

by dlaw on Sun Jun 22, 2008 at 11:18:36 AM PST

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...and of course she would. She was involved in the issue and she is that excellent kind of person who thanks everyone (witness her responses) and keeps standards high in a positive way.

And the Grays Harbor group should thank the Senator. Maria Cantwell gets requests from a lot of advocacy groups in Washington and she devoted time to and successfully acted on behalf of this particular one. So polite thanks are de rigeur.

But should we all thank Senator Cantwell?

On balance, I think not. I wasn't involved in the meetings and neither were most of the people here. In my view, the activists gave Senator Cantwell a present, not the other way around. They presented to Cantwell - on a silver platter - an opportunity get one of those nice, uncontroversial, feel-good goodies that politicians absolutely love to get.

This is a tiny appropriation that benefits essentially everyone and even redresses an inequity in coastal protection. I can't even think of how a Republican would form an objection to it. It will probably even benefit the residents of Oregon and as long as she makes the request for a Washington siting first (and has some stories of bad flood damage on her side) I don't even see how  the Oregon delegation could object.

In short, I really can't think of an easier appropriation to get. Senator Cantwell is an ADVOCATE for Washington state. She has a positive obligation to get benefit for her state and represent her party, not just sit there "polishing" her resume. Why should we thank her for doing her job - poorly?

We're in a national campaign. If Senator Cantwell thinks that her job is just to get re-elected so she can play it safe and sprinkle the federal trinkets on her constituents, she should be replaced. This presidential race pits OUR anti-war Senator versus the most escallationist Senator in the entire Senate. The most winnable congressional race in this state pits a leader of the anti-war candidates against a Bush rubber stamp. Iraq is the central issue of this campaign and Senator Cantwell has shown ZERO leadership.

Senators Obama and Clinton can't vote for timetables when they are running for Commander-In-Chief. That's basic. But Senator Cantwell can certainly do more than voting for losing resolutions and reluctantly supporting the inevitable presidential nominee at the last possible minute when her state supported him overwhelmingly.

In short, Senator Cantwell can get on board or find other work. She's one of the most replaceable Democrats of 2012.

by dlaw on Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 10:02:50 AM PST

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