Bill to boost Charlotte’s weather radar coverage moves forward in NC House

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte could be closer to having its own National Weather Service radar.

On Thursday, Rep. Jeff Jackson’s office said the Weather Act Reauthorization, a bill he introduced, has passed committee.

Right now, Channel 9 has the Charlotte area’s only local radar. The National Weather Service doesn’t have a radar in Charlotte, and the closest NWS NEXRAD doppler radar system is in Greer, South Carolina -- more than 80 miles away.

The NWS can sometimes be slow to warn of low-altitude thunderstorms and tornadoes because of Charlotte’s distance from the radar. And according to Jackson’s office, the Charlotte area is “one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country that isn’t covered by a nearby weather radar, endangering millions of people.”

It’s something Jackson previously spoke with Chief Meteorologist Steve Udelson about.

“This has been a critical issue for the Charlotte metro really dating back to the 1980s, but I’ve been dealing with it for the last 25 years,” Udelson said. “We have a hole in the radar network that the NWS uses to keep all of us safe. And this bill would ensure that the Charlotte metro were properly covered so we can get the most accurate data, so we can predict severe storms, tornadoes that sort of thing.”

The goal of the Weather Act Reauthorization is to close the radar gap. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is currently mapping out its next generation of radar systems called NEXRAD. The Weather Act Reauthorization would call for NOAAA to prioritize current radar gaps when deciding where to place the new systems.

Charlotte would be one of the regions to take priority because it is currently more than 75 miles away from a radar station.

“Earlier this year, I introduced a bill that would help ensure that when we upgrade to a new radar system nationwide in the coming years, special attention is given to areas in these blindspots because of their distance from NEXRAD sites, like my district and the city of Charlotte,” Jackson said in a statement. “My amendment will help close these gaps and ensure that as many parts of our country as possible have access to high-quality and accurate weather information.”

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