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Wind turbines create false storms on radar; Specious thunderstorm appear near Plattsburgh

Every day, all day, weather radar shows a small but intense thunderstorm northwest of Plattsburgh, N.Y. Further to the west, in central New York, where much of Vermont's weather comes from ...But these daily storms are not real. They're an unintended side effect of the wind farms cropping up on windy plateaus and mountains all over the nation.

Every day, all day, weather radar shows a small but intense thunderstorm northwest of Plattsburgh, N.Y. Further to the west, in central New York, where much of Vermont's weather comes from, the radar shows a brewing mass of showers and storms, sometimes with a nascent tornado thrown in.

But these daily storms are not real.

They're an unintended side effect of the wind farms cropping up on windy plateaus and mountains all over the nation.

Computer technicians can program sophisticated meteorological radar equipment to avoid registering stationary objects like hills and buildings, giving a clearer view of subtle weather patterns, said Andy Nash, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in South Burlington.

But programmers have trouble "erasing" large moving objects like clusters of wind turbines. The radar is designed to pick up changes in wind speed and direction, something encountered both in storms and near wind farms. A meteorologist who is aware of a wind farm can discount false radar echoes produced by the turbines, as National Weather Service meteorologists do in regards to the phantom storm outside Plattsburgh.

The trouble starts when a real storm... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Every day, all day, weather radar shows a small but intense thunderstorm northwest of Plattsburgh, N.Y. Further to the west, in central New York, where much of Vermont's weather comes from, the radar shows a brewing mass of showers and storms, sometimes with a nascent tornado thrown in.

But these daily storms are not real.

They're an unintended side effect of the wind farms cropping up on windy plateaus and mountains all over the nation.

Computer technicians can program sophisticated meteorological radar equipment to avoid registering stationary objects like hills and buildings, giving a clearer view of subtle weather patterns, said Andy Nash, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in South Burlington.

But programmers have trouble "erasing" large moving objects like clusters of wind turbines. The radar is designed to pick up changes in wind speed and direction, something encountered both in storms and near wind farms. A meteorologist who is aware of a wind farm can discount false radar echoes produced by the turbines, as National Weather Service meteorologists do in regards to the phantom storm outside Plattsburgh.

The trouble starts when a real storm moves into the area covered by the fake, turbine-created storm, Nash said. The wind turbines near Clinton, N.Y., northwest of Plattsburgh, could make it difficult to determine how much rain has fallen in the area, which in turn makes it hard to figure out if a flash-flood risk exists in the area, he said.

A representative of Noble Environmental Power, which operates the New York turbines, did not return messages seeking comment.

Radar used by the National Weather Service and other meteorologists can detect early signs of tornadoes, flash floods or damaging hail, affording a greater opportunity to warn the public. In a few instances, wind farms can interfere with the ability of forecasters to issue warnings, Nash said.

Little case law exists for regulating how turbines affect weather forecasting.

"There's no regulations. That's why the Weather Service is trying to work hard with wind-farm developers," Nash said. He stopped short of calling for legislation to regulate wind farms because many companies have signaled a willingness to mitigate the effects on radar.

In Vermont, wind farms need a permit called a Certificate of Public Good before they can be built. Among the permit conditions is that wind farms must not have an undue adverse effect on public health and safety, said Susan Hudson, clerk of the Vermont Public Service Board, which decides whether to issue permits for wind farms and other utilities.

The effects of wind turbines on radar would probably fall under the public health and safety provisions, Hudson said.

The American Wind Energy Association said the organization and the wind industry are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to minimize the effects of turbines on radar, said Laurie Jodziewicz, manager of siting policy for the association.

"We are confident we can solve this in the very few cases where this many be an issue," she said.

Wind-energy developers can mitigate the effects on radar by building turbines far from radar installations, locating the turbines on hills facing away from radar, and stopping the turbines when severe weather threatens to avoid confusing forecasters, according to a recent NOAA publication.

Not all private weather forecasters are aware of the problems with turbines, Nash said.

"We've had some calls from private meteorologists in Kansas. They dropped us a note asking, ‘Is that a real storm or is that a fake?'" he said.

Nash said he has contacted weather forecasters in and near Vermont, including those at television stations WPTZ, WCAX and FOX 44 to ensure they are aware of the false storm readings created by turbines.


Source: http://www.burlingtonfreepr...

JUL 6 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20998-wind-turbines-create-false-storms-on-radar-specious-thunderstorm-appear-near-plattsburgh
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