Alabama meteorologists work to close ‘Tornado Radar Gap’ in West Alabama

Coverage graphic in 'tornado gap'
Coverage graphic in 'tornado gap'(WBRC)
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 10:26 AM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - There’s nothing more terrifying than not being able to see the tornado because there is no weather radar. That is precisely what the situation is in an area of west Alabama in which meteorologists call the ‘tornado gap.’

Case in point; Anita Rembert of Demopolis died more than a year ago when a tornado struck.

Putting up another weather radar in this part of west Alabama in or near Wilcox County would be a godsend, according to Melissa Dove.

“That would be the ticket. Getting the funding for the radar would be the ticket to fix it all, and we would be getting more information, more accurate information,” said Wilcox County EMA Director Melissa Dove.

“And just southwest of our coverage area we’ll certainly see what’s moving in our direction,” said WBRC Chief Meteorologist Wes Wyatt.

Such a move is in the works.

A grassroots effort is underway right now to make it happen. A $1.4 million radar that would all but eliminate the middle space. The rings indicate acceptable radar coverage.

The group met in Wilcox County Tuesday afternoon, a gathering that consisted of federal and local EMA leaders along with WSFA Chief Meteorologist Josh Johnson.

Meeting on West Alabama weather radar
Meeting on West Alabama weather radar(WBRC)
Meeting on West Alabama weather radar
Meeting on West Alabama weather radar(WBRC)

“We are trying to get hazardous mitigation money from the federal government. We’ll have to match it with $350,000 but we think we can make that happen,” said Dove.

“No one denies this would save lives,” said Johnson.

Installing the new radar, which would sit on an 80 foot tower depending on the terrain, will take time. The right people from Washington down to the state and local levels have to be on board. The idea appears to be gaining traction.

“If we are able to put a radar in, then everybody will have access to the data,” said Bob Baron of Baron Radar. Baron’s company would build the new radar tower if the money comes through.

In terms of a timetable, there is cautious optimism the new radar will be in place one year from now.

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