Warning people when dangerous weather strikes is vital to save lives. The National Weather Service responsible for sending out those messages says a proposed wind farm project could cause confusion when reading the weather radar. A wind farm affects a forecast by having radar beams hit the spinning blades, bounce back and make it look like it’s raining all the time. A $150 million wind farm project south of Blue Hill is the first, close to a Doppler radar in Nebraska.
“It’s simply impacting the precipitation or the amount of power return back to the radar, it will always be there,” said Steve Eddy, Meteorologist In Charge at the National Weather Service in Hastings. Experts add it clutters up the radar making it tough to tell what is actually going on. “As you can tell that is not a snap shot of what is actually occurring if you look out the window,” Eddy said.
Nextera Energy, the company behind the wind farm isn’t ignoring the problems. “Now all that said, they have done a wonderful job working with us,” said Eddy. Nextera Energy also agreed to put out rain gauges and move turbines further away than first proposed. “We go out and train spotters because radar isn’t perfect,” said Eddy. “We want human beings to tell us what is going on. This company again has said they would look at us training people that will be on the site 24/7 to be spotters for us.”
Some of the 52 proposed turbines will be as close as two miles from the Doppler radar site, there’s a good reason most wind farms are not this close. “What will happen likely is a thunderstorm will develop in another county move across that area we’ll lose it for a time period then it will reappear as it comes out of the other side.”
“During severe weather activity of course that could be problematic if there are storms in and around those wind farms,” explained Kent Boughton, NTV’s Chief Forecaster.
Of course the National Weather Service just wants to make sure they can still send out accurate warnings when need be. “We want to make sure we are able to do our job as well as we can to protect the people that would be in that area,” said Eddy.
The turbines won’t be up and running till the end of next year (2015) and changes could still also be made.
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