Tornadoes or Wind Farms? Confusing the Weatherman
Wind farms get the blame for everything – from causing the deaths of hundreds of birds and bats, to creating chronic health problems in humans. Now they are affecting the accuracy and reliability of weather forecasts. Understandably, weathermen are concerned by this bane to their reputation.
Due to massive clusters of 200 foot high towers, wind farms can appear on Dopplar radar as a splatter of green, yellow, orange and red, much like a violent storm or even a tornado. You guessed it, weathermen sometimes mistake this for violent weather patterns and may even issue emergency warnings.
With the push for expanding renewable sources of energy, more and more wind farms are starting up, leading to inevitable problems with weather forecasting. Because radar looks for motion to detect active weather, software can filter out stationary objects but has no way of filtering out spinning blades.
It’s a phenomenon that has affected several National Weather Service radar sites within the United States. As these problems continue, the weather service is investing in technology to distinguish between dangerous storms and wind farms, so meteorologists can get back to accurately predicting the weather.