DURANGO, Colo. (CBS4) – The location of a new permanent weather radar for the Four Corners region has been announced. The site will eventually fill a gap in radar coverage that has always existed in southwest Colorado.

La Plata County and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe said Monday they plan to build the radar tower on tribal lands about 15 miles south of Durango. The radar system is expected to fill a notorious blind spot for weather and radar modeling.

A temporary Doppler radar sits on Missionary Ridge in southwest Colorado. (credit: Thomas McNamara, La Plata County OEM)

The existing radars that surround the Four Corners are located too far away for adequate coverage. For instance, the height of the radar beam from the radar located in Grand Junction, Colorado, is so high by the time it reaches the Four Corners that it cannot locate storms below 28,000 feet. This means weather forecasters miss many incoming storms around Cortez and Durango and especially Pagosa Springs and other towns in the region around the San Juan Mountains.

The new radar will join the existing network of 159 high-resolution weather radars operated by the National Weather Service. The new site has been in the works for several years.

During the 416 Fire near Durango in 2018, a temporary radar was installed on Missionary Ridge as a interim tool to fill the coverage gap. That radar was removed from the site following the fire.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Meteorologist Ashton Altieri

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