After years of debate, National Weather Service to relocate Shallotte weather radar

The National Weather Service confirmed it is relocating the KLTX Doppler radar in Shallotte.
The National Weather Service confirmed it is relocating the KLTX Doppler radar in Shallotte.(WECT)
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 5:54 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The National Weather Service confirmed Tuesday that it is planning to relocate the KLTX Doppler weather radar in Shallotte that is blocked by tree growth.

Sunset Beach Town Council voted last week to pass a resolution urging the National Weather Service to take action immediately, and now, they’ve responded.

Officials say, getting these threats of severe weather out faster is extremely important for the people of Brunswick County.

“Even just the safety and giving folks notification early, so that they can take shelter or evacuate,” said Sunset Beach Fire Chief Paul Hasenmeier. “Whatever the severe weather threat is like, they can do so as fast as possible.”

The beams the radar uses to scan for storms are partially blocked by pine trees on surrounding properties. The trees were not an issue in 1994 when the radar was installed, but they’ve grown so tall since then that they are now causing significant interference.

Specifically, the tree line has created a blind spot for the radar to the south and southwest, making it considerably harder for National Weather Service and other meteorologists to track severe weather around Ocean Isle Beach, Sunset Beach, Calabash, Carolina Shores, and south to the Grand Strand. Many storms that impact the Cape Fear Region approach from that direction.

After a deadly tornado killed 3 in February 2021 in the Ocean Ridge Plantation community, neighbors say it’s a relief that their concerns of the radar being blocked are being heard.

“It’s wonderful that the National Weather Service recognized that was a big issue,” said Ocean Ridge Plantation Board President Carol Dunham. “And that our area of the county has really been impeded on getting those notices very early.”

Steve Galluccio also lives in the Ocean Ridge area. Even though he wasn’t home during the deadly storm, his wife was home, and only had about 5 minutes notice that there was a tornado in the area.

“She was all by herself,” said Galluccio. “She didn’t even realize that a tornado had hit. So, it was indeed very scary. If we can minimize the damage, minimize the loss of life or injuries by having advanced warnings, it helps everybody.”

According to officials with the National Weather Service, the project is expected to start this fall. A new location for the tower has not been announced yet, but the project is expected to cost over $5 million.

The funding hasn’t been available in years past, despite this being an ongoing issue, but it’s finally been secured to finish the project. The total process of moving the weather radar is expected to take at least three years.

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