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Bay area is low on a long list for radar

What do State College, Pa., Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, Camp Humphreys in South Korea and Morehead City, N.C., have in common?

They're all scheduled to get Doppler radar units long before the Tampa Bay area.

The deadly tornadoes that hit mid-Pinellas without warning Oct. 3 have renewed calls to bring the advanced radar system to the bay area before the scheduled delivery date of February 1995. The National Weather Service office in Ruskin uses antiquated radar that cannot detect changes in wind speed and direction.

Local politicians have lobbied federal officials to boost Tampa from its lowly ranking, 113th among 176 sites due to get Doppler radar.

The problem is, "Everybody wants theirs as fast as they can get it," said Louis Boezi, in charge of updating National Weather Service technology. He frequently hears from weather-clobbered communities that want their Doppler.

"The United States has the greatest variety of severe weather episodes in the world. . . . Hurricanes, tornadoes, severe winter storms, flash floods, lightning, you name it, we get it."

The priority list, a jumble of big cities, tiny hamlets and military installations, reflects the demands of three government agencies: the National Weather Service, the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration.

So while it may seem strange to put South Korea above Tampa, it was done for national security reasons, Boezi said.

He added that the list changes constantly, particularly as military operations change. For instance, Clark Air Base in the Philippines is high on the list that Boezi gave the Times, but that base had to be abandoned last year after it was covered by ash from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

Severe weather sometimes does prompt a change _ Miami has moved up in the rankings because the National Hurricane Center's radar was damaged by Hurricane Andrew.

Boezi said the weather service used a number of factors to set its priorities. It first had to establish sites for the new radar to be tested and for personnel to be trained to use it. Areas that suffer frequent deadly weather also were a priority: The tornadoes of Oct. 3 aside, history shows that severe tornadoes are rare in Florida, compared to the Midwest's "Tornado Alley."

Another factor in compiling the list was the size of the local weather stations. Radar was placed first at stations that have relatively large staffs so they would have enough people to operate it. The Ruskin office would have to be beefed up before Doppler is installed, Boezi said.

The weather service also strove to get at least partial coverage over wide areas of the country. For instance, the radar in Melbourne installed to protect the Kennedy Space Center provides some information about Tampa Bay's weather, but not enough to have seen the recent tornadoes before landfall.

Boezi said he didn't know why Tallahassee, which is not as prone to dangerous weather as the Tampa Bay area, is ranked higher.

"Everyone thinks their weather is the worst," he said.

U.S. Rep. Sam Gibbons, D-Tampa, has argued the priorities with the various federal agencies that set them, but said he doubts the bay area will move up on the list.

"You're asking for my honest-to-God appraisal, and I don't think there's much chance of accelerating our priority," he said. Gibbons said the recent tornadoes did not impress those in charge of the list. "They've got tornado stories coming out of their ears."

Sites to get Doppler radar

Here is a list of the next 164 sites to receive Doppler radar units. Eleven units already have been installed at sites throughout the country. The areas are ranked according to date of delivery. The dates below refer to installation and testing.

12. Wichita, KS 10/15/92

13. Goodland, KS 11/15/92

14. Kansas City (Pleasant Hill), MO 12/15/92

15. Griffiss AFB, Rome, N.Y. 12/15/92

16. Andersen AFB, Guam 02/01/93

17. Dover AFB, DE 01/15/93

18. Amarillo, TX 02/15/93

19. East Alabama, AL 02/15/93

20. Clark Air Base, Philippines 04/01/93

21. Little Rock, AK 03/15/93

22. Jackson, MS 04/15/93

23. Central Texas, TX 04/15/93

24. Kunsan AB, South Korea 06/01/93

25. Tulsa, OK 06/01/93

26. Vandenberg AFB, CA 05/15/93

27. Denver, CO 07/01/93

28. Topeka, KS 07/01/93

29. Detroit, MI 06/15/93

30. Chicago (Joliet), IL 07/15/93

31. Camp Humphreys, South Korea 08/01/93

32. Grand Island, NE 01/01/93

33. Pittsburgh, PA 01/15/93

34. Cleveland, OH 04/15/93

35. Indianapolis, IN 01/15/93

36. State College, PA 10/01/93

37. Kadena AB, Okinawa 10/01/93

38. Keesler AFB, MS 09/15/93

39. Binghamton, NY 10/01/93

40. Philadelphia, PA 11/01/93

41. New York, NY 10/15/93

42. Louisville (Ft. Knox), KY 11/01/93

43. Milwaukee, WI 10/15/93

44. Memphis (Millington), TN 12/01/93

45. Albany, NY 12/01/93

46. Dyess AFB, Abilene, TX 11/15/93

47. Boston, MA 11/15/93

48. Fort Rucker, AL 12/15/93

49. Portland, ME 01/01/94

50. Boise (Wild Horse Corral), ID 01/01/94

51. Des Moines, IA 12/15/93

52. Sioux Falls, SD 01/15/94

53. Vance AFB, OK 01/15/94

54. Morehead City, NC 01/15/94

55. Columbia, SC 01/15/94

56. Phoenix (Williams), AZ 03/01/94

57. Robins AFB, GA 02/15/94

58. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX 02/15/94

59. Lubbock, TX 02/05/94

60. Los Angeles, CA 04/01/94

61. Sacramento Valley, CA 04/01/94

62. March AFB, CA 03/15/94

63. Laughlin AFB, TX 03/15/94

64. Raleigh/Durham, NC 05/01/94

65. San Francisco bay area, CA 05/01/94

66. Fort Campbell, KY 04/15/94

67. Seattle, WA 05/01/94

68. Slidell, LA 05/15/94

69. Miami, FL 06/01/94

70. Columbus AFB, MS 05/15/94

71. Lake Charles, LA 05/15/94

72. Cincinnati/Dayton, OH 06/15/94

73. Cannon AFB, NM 06/15/94

74. Birmingham, AL 06/15/94

75. Atlanta, GA 06/15/94

76. Edwards AFB, CA 07/15/94

77. Albuquerque, NM 06/01/94

78. Austin/San Antonio, TX 07/15/94

79. Omaha, NE 07/15/94

80. Buffalo, NY 08/15/94

81. Great Falls, MT 08/15/94

82. Minot, ND 08/15/94

83. Eastern Puerto Rico 09/01/94

84. Charleston, WV 09/15/94

85. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 09/15/94

86. Knoxville (Morristown), TN 09/15/94

87. Keesler AFB, MS 09/15/94

88. Reno, Nev. 11/01/94

89. Bannister Training Center, KS 10/15/94

90. Cheyenne, WY 10/15/94

91. Salt Lake City, UT 11/01/94

92. Missoula, MT 11/01/94

93. Bismarck, ND 11/15/94

94. Norfolk, VA 11/15/94

95. Green Bay, WI 11/15/94

96. Wilmington, NC 12/01/94

97. Nashville (Old Hickory), TN 12/15/94

98. Pueblo, CO 01/01/95

99. Roanoke, VA 01/01/95

100. Aberdeen, SD 12/01/94

101. Springfield, MO 01/15/94

102. Portland, OR 02/01/95

103. Eureka, CA 02/01/95

104. Quad Cities, IL 01/15/95

105. Central Illinois (Springfield) 02/15/95

106. Mobile, AL 02/15/95

107. Jacksonville, FL 02/15/95

108. Tallahassee, FL 01/15/95

109. Charleston, SC 04/01/95

110. Paducah, KY 03/15/95

111. Midland/Odessa, TX 03/15/95

112. Beale AFB, CA 03/15/95

113. Tampa, FL 04/15/95

114. Brownsville, TX 04/15/95

115. San Joaquin Valley, CA 05/01/95

116. Shreveport, LA 04/15/95

117. Georgetown, Bahamas 06/01/95

118. Holloman AFB, NM 05/15/95

119. Tucson, AZ 06/01/95

120. Kamuela, HI 06/01/95

121. Grand Turk, British West Indies 07/01/95

122. Molokai, HI 07/01/95

123. Las Vegas, NV 07/01/95

124. Marquette, MI 06/15/95

125. Grand Rapids, MI 07/15/95

126. Loring AFB, ME 07/15/95

127. South Kauai, HI 08/01/95

128. Alpena, MI 07/15/95

129. Anchorage, AK 09/01/95

130. Duluth, MN 08/15/95

131. San Diego, CA 09/01/95

132. North Platte, NE 09/01/95

133. Cedar City, UT, 10/01/95

134. Middleton Island, AK 10/01/95

135. Elko, NV 10/01/95

136. Pocatello, ID 10/01/95

137. Burlington, VT 10/15/95

138. Sitka/Juneau, AK 11/01/95

139. Medford, OR 11/01/95

140. Flagstaff, AZ 11/01/95

141. Grand Junction, CO 12/01/95

142. Fairbanks, AK 12/01/95

143. Rapid City, SD 11/15/95

144. Lander (Riverton), WY 11/15/95

145. Pendleton, OR 12/15/95

146. La Crosse, WI 12/15/95

147. Lajes Air Base, Azores 01/01/96

148. Yuma, AZ 12/15/95

149. Spokane, WA 01/15/96

150. Fargo, ND 01/15/96

151. Billings, MT 02/01/96

152. Red Flag Range, NV 01/15/96

153. Key West, FL 02/15/96

154. Glasgow, MT 02/15/96

155. El Paso (Santa Teresa), TX 02/15/96

156. Corpus Christi, TX 02/15/96

157. Western UK 04/01/96

158. Camp New Amsterdam, Netherlands

04/01/96

159. Eastern UK 04/01/96

160. San Angelo, TX 03/15/96

161. England AFB, LA 04/15/96

162. Grissom AFB, IN 04/15/96

163. Yokota AB, Japan 05/01/96

164. Zaragoza AB, Spain 05/01/96

165. Central Germany 06/01/96

166. Moody AFB, GA 05/15/96

167. Crotone AB, Italy 06/01/96

168. Western Germany 06/01/96

169. Eastern Germany 07/01/96

170. McGrath, AK 07/01/96

171. Aviano AB, Italy 07/01/96

172. King Salmon, AK 07/01/96

173. Nome, AK 06/01/96

174. Bering Sea, AK 08/01/96

175. Bethel, AK 08/01/36

176. Site ZZ (to be determined) 08/01/96

Sources: National Weather Service, Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration

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