Wind Farms Cause Problems for Weather Forecasters

Rain showers can be hard to detect near wind farms, because the spinning turbines actually show up on radar.

It's a growing problem for forecasters and meteorologists in the Panhandle because they are getting a false positive.

It looks like it's raining in the same place all day, every day.

It looks like it's raining outside of Vega, but really that's just wind turbines blowing in the wind.

"When they are active they are creating a wind of their own. When wind punches across there it's driving those blades or turbines, it's creating it's own environment," said Roland Nuñez, a senior forecaster for the National Weather Service.

The radar picks up changes in wind speed and direction, and interprets it as energy.

Causing problems when real storms approach.

"If there's a shower or thunderstorm coming across there. It makes it a little bit tougher and in that case we need to move the radar up just a tad bit and be able to scan the other parts of the storm," said Nuñez.

The biggest problems are not from the biggest wind farms.

T. Boone Pickens' proposed farm will have more than 10 times the turbines Wildorado Wind Ranch has.

But it's farther from the radar and may never show up.

The farms that will cause a problem for the radar will be the Majestic Wind Farm being built here in Carson County.

And the Palo Duro Wind Farm outside of Canyon, which will be nearly four times larger than Wildorado.

"It can cause confusion there's no doubt about that. Lets say you have a weak shower coming in some of it's hard to pick-up. So if one of these showers come across the wind farms it could be masked. The forecaster needs to be more diligent," said Nuñez.

Nuñez says the national weather service will have to use more satellite imaging and observations instead of radar.

As more wind farms are built.

It is important to note, severe weather can trump the false readings these wind farms give off.

Forecasters have the hardest time when a light shower comes across the Panhandle.