WASHINGTON, DC – Following a meeting with Jack Hayes, the Director of the National Weather Service (NWS), U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced today that she has received a commitment from the agency to provide more flood forecasting equipment and technologies for communities in the Green River Valley. The damaged Howard Hanson Dam has increased the threat of flooding throughout the Valley. During her meeting with Hayes, Cantwell stressed the urgent need for more support, equipment, and technologies to assist communities in assessing flood threats and possible damage.
“We’re quickly approaching winter, when weather patterns and the risk of flooding could devastate the communities in the Green River Valley,” said Cantwell, Chair of the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee. “These additional tools provided by the National Weather Service will allow local communities and the Army Corps of Engineers to better manage water flow on the Green River, and help protect homes, communities, and businesses as much as possible.”
“As we get further into the flood season, we need every tool at our disposal to protect people and property in the Green River Valley,” said Senator Patty Murray. “This additional monitoring capability will play an important role in providing the early and accurate warnings we’ll need to best protect homes, businesses, and residents in the event of a flood.”
"The National Weather Service is committed to providing additional resources to enhance our support to decision makers and the public to protect lives and property," said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of the National Weather Service at the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
During their meeting, Hayes informed Cantwell that the NWS will: · Increase weather observing infrastructure by: o Installing 14 additional rain gauges o Installing an Atmospheric River Observatory system in the Green River basin, which will include a wind profiler, water vapor sensor, and a vertically-pointing radar to monitor the rain/snow level o Assisting in ramping up efforts to have the Army Corps of Engineers and United States Geologicial Survey install additional river gauges · Customize weather and river models with a focus on the Green River basin · Focus on delivering decision-focused products o Long lead “heads-up” to 10 days o 72-hour flood potential outlooks o Increased frequency of short term forecasts, watches, warning, and call to action statements tailored to alert local community officials · Implement a staff augmentation plan to bring in additional weather service employees from other regions during a major storm to Washington state to assist with heavier workloads.
On October 25, Cantwell toured the Howard Hanson Dam with Colonel Wright of the Army Corps of Engineers, and has been working over the last several weeks to ensure that the Corps, as well as other agencies, and communities have the technologies and equipment they need to enhance preparedness and respond to potential flooding. Cantwell has had multiple meetings with officials from the National Weather Service, and on October 22 she met with the head of the United States Geological Survey.
On October 20, she joined other members of the delegation in sending a letter to the Departments of Commerce and Interior to provide critical weather forecasting and river monitoring resources. Delivery of this equipment and technological tools fulfills all of the requests made to the Department of Commerce in that letter.