Wind Farms Popping Up on National Weather Service Radar Screens

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- As more wind turbines go up around West Texas, more wind farms are popping up on the National Weather Service (NWS) radar and satellite images.

"Usually we only see them early in the morning," National Weather Service Meteorologist David Hennig told NewsWest 9 as he pointed to a computer screen.

According to Hennig, the team of Meteorologists at NWS are trained to spot ground clutter like wind farms.

"Ideally you would only like to see showers and thunderstorms on your radar scope, but again we're trained to identify them and it's not going to be much of a problem at all." Hennig said its only a minor obstacle for trained forecasters.

Across the Country, Meteorologists are learning to use the radar and satellite imaging systems to suppress the images. Birds, bats, mountains, radio towers, even traffic on I-20 is known to show up but Hennig says there are other tell-tale signs the images aren't bad weather but instead just ground clutter.

"If it were showers and thunderstorms when you look at it on a loop you're going to see the echo moving but ground clutter is going to remain stationary," he said.

When severe weather actually rolls in, the National Weather Service is beginning to use new technology to keep the media and other emergency crews informed while allowing the organization a way to feed information back.

"We have something that has just recently came on line, that's called NWS Chat." Hennig says within the last year they unveiled the program and are able to share information in case of an emergency.

"It gets widest disemination," Hennig says the new technology is critical to public safety.