Can proposed wind farm impact Doppler Radar systems?


EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) Will a proposed wind farm have a negative effect on the National Weather Service Doppler Radar? That was a big point of discussion at Wednesday night’s public hearing in Posey County.

“The mission of the National Weather Service is the protection of life and property,” says Rick Shanklin of the National Weather Service in Paducah. He also says there are general concerns about a planned wind farm in Posey and Gibson Counties, but officials want to know more details on the project and potential impact on nearby radar sites. He says the closer a wind turbine, or any object is to a radar site, the higher chance the service is disrupted.

“There’s been cases of trees near where a radar , maybe, was installed in a location that wasn’t high enough to overshoot a tree. A tree can cause issues,” Shanklin says.

Residents raised several concerns about a potential wind far during a pubic hearing Wednesday night, but one concern that seemed to pop up again and again was the wind farm’s potential affect on Doppler Radar and public safety.

“It offers no protection for the Doppler Radar system. Left unedited, this ordinance allows for the construction of an industrial wind farm within close proximity of a Doppler Radar system, basically nullifying its effectiveness as an early warning system,” said one speaker at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Shanklin says they’re working with their radar operations center in Norman, Oklahoma on potential issues, and they hope a curtailment agreement is in place if the wind farm is built

“We would be hopeful that some agreement like that can be established where weather of concern in that area, the turbines can be halted for a period of time,” he says.

Shanklin also says the National Weather Service has noticed minimal problems with wind turbines in other parts of the country, but he adds that depends on where the wind turbines are placed and if they’re installed along a sampling line.

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(This story was originally published on November 21, 2019)

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