WATERTOWN – A new document from the National Weather Service expands on potential interference with the weather radar in Montague, used by personnel at Fort Drum.
In addition to the Buffalo and Burlington, Vt. weather stations which cover Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, the document lists impacts to the Albany and Binghamton National Weather Service stations, which also use the Montague KTYX radar.
Among the possible concerns listed in the document for the Binghamton station is that beam blockage from wind turbines could hamper tracking of thunderstorms in Oneida and Madison counties, delaying tornado warnings. It could also make it difficult to track lake effect snow and rainfall, which in turn could delay travel advice and flash flood warnings.
For the Albany station, the document said that clutter from turbines could create false storm identification and tracking over Lewis and northern Herkimer counties, as well as possibly masking lake effect snow.
The document was sent out by Jessica A. Schultz with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and lists the possible impact of wind turbines for the four NWS weather stations that use the weather radar. According to documents published online by NOAA, Ms. Schultz works at the NOAA NWS Radar Operations Center in Oklahoma. Although the document itself is unsigned, the document’s properties list the author as being a JSchultz.
Calls to the National Weather Service station in Buffalo to get more information about the document were not returned. Matthew Clay, a meteorologist at the Burlington station, said he was not familiar with the document, but that turbine interference with weather stations happens all over the United States.
“There’s offices in the plains, there’s offices all over that have wind turbines,” he said.
While weather stations can cope with turbine interference and other obstructions – such as mountains – Mr. Clay said this is not ideal.
“If possible, we would love not to have that issue,” he said.
Capt. Patrick Phillippi, of the Air Force’s 18th Weather Squadron, Detachment 1, said last July that relocating the weather radar was not feasible, given the cost and difficulty of moving the fragile system, and that there would be no system to fill in during the transition period.
The KTYX radar collects data within a 248-nautical-mile radius by emitting an energy beam and rotating it 360 degrees at different elevation angles from 0.5 degrees to 19.5 degrees from the horizon. The beam, however, could bounce off turbines at the lowest elevation angles.
Mr. Clay said the radar quickly climbs over the height of turbines, but interference can be caused by turbines close to the radar station, depending on turbine height. The document lists concerns about blockages 25 to 30 nautical miles away in northern Herkimer County.
“We’re continuing to work cooperatively with Fort Drum, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense and the National Weather Service to identify and mitigate any impacts with our proposed wind farm developments near Fort Drum,” wrote Paul N. Copleman, communications manager with Avangrid, in an email. Avangrid is responsible for several wind projects locally.
“Our experience across the country has demonstrated that through this cooperative process, wind farms can successfully coexist near military bases and associated facilities,” Mr. Copleman wrote.
Neil T. Habig, senior director of project development for Apex Clean Energy, which is developing the Galloo Island Wind project, said Apex had spoken with both the Burlington weather station and Fort Drum and neither had issues with the project.