Hoeven Presses NOAA to Study Gaps in Radar Coverage for Watford City

Current Radar Coverage Cannot Detect Severe Weather in Western North Dakota Below 10,000 Feet

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today in a letter pressed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study gaps in the agency’s Doppler Radar (NEXRAD) coverage for Watford City and western North Dakota. Because of the gaps, NOAA did not issue a tornado warning for Watford City on July 10 when an EF2 tornado touched down, killing an infant child, seriously injuring nine other residents and destroying or damaging hundreds of RVs and vehicles. 

“Earlier this month, a tornado swept through the Prairie View RV Park in the Watford City community, tragically killing a baby and injuring others as well as inflicting widespread damage” Hoeven said. “NOAA currently monitors the area for weather using NEXRAD in Bismarck and Minot. But these stations are located too far from Watford City to detect severe weather in the area below 10,000 feet. Because of this gap in coverage, residents and community officials were not sufficiently alerted prior to the deadly tornado touching down on July 10. Last year, we passed legislation requiring NOAA to study gaps in NEXRAD coverage. Watford City and western North Dakota should be included in this study so we can address these gaps, help protect area residents from severe weather and prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.”

In April 2017, the president signed into law the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act. The bill requires NOAA to study gaps in NEXRAD coverage and provide recommendations in addressing gaps. In his letter, Hoeven requested NOAA to include Watford City and western North Dakota in its study. A copy of Hoeven’s letter can be found by clicking here.