Congressman Adam Smith and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congressmen Dave Reichert (WA-08) have called on the Departments of Commerce and Interior to provide critical weather forecasting and river monitoring resources from the National Weather Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to address the flood threat posed by structural damage to the Howard Hanson Dam, in a letter sent yesterday afternoon.

The representatives urged Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to provide additional resources that may improve the accuracy of weather models and provide better data to local officials and the Corps as they work to minimize the threat of flooding.  

“In the event of a flood, it is vitally important that we make decisive, data driven decisions to mobilize our resources in the most effective and timely way possible,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “In order to do this, we must have the most accurate and up-to-date information at our disposal. These additional tools will help provide that information and allow authorities to make more informed decisions and better coordinate their efforts to prevent and mitigate flooding damage.”

“This is about utilizing all available tools in order to take every possible precaution,” said Senator Murray. “This additional monitoring equipment can 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 in the Green River Valley.”

“Washington State experiences some of the worst weather in the nation, yet it has the worst weather radar coverage of any U.S. coastline,” said Senator Cantwell. “While I have been able to secure funding for a new Doppler Radar on the Washington Coast the additional tools we are requesting today could help Army Corps of Engineers better manage water flows on the Green River valley.  Given that homes, businesses, and communities are at stake, we need to do everything possible to help deal with this winter’s storm season.”

“Flood season is rapidly approaching, and the Corps needs every possible tool at its disposal to avert disaster,” Reichert said. “We are all working together to protect our citizens and their property, and having the most advanced radar systems, precipitation gauges, and technologically advanced infrastructure possible will assist us in mitigating a flood event that could wreak havoc throughout our region.”

Specifically, the representatives requested the following: 

 Additional Gauges With Telemetry – That the U.S. Geological Survey install additional precipitation gauges and gauges to measure flows into the Howard Hanson Dam in order to assist the Corps in deciding when and how much water to release;

Relocations of Mobile Doppler Weather Radar Systems – That the National Weather Service relocate the Experimental Atmospheric River System (ARO) to Washington State this fall to enhance weather forecasting capabilities that inform Corps decisions about operations at the Howard Hanson Dam; and,

Modeling and Computer Programming Staff and Technology – Additional staffing resources and technology would be beneficial in the event of a storm at regional National Weather Service (NWS) and Northwest River Forecasting Center (NWRFC) to update and fine tune forecasting models for the Green River Basin. The representatives have requested these agencies shift additional resources to the Northwest this fall to assist the Corps in making critical operational decisions related to the dam.