Wind farms in central Illinois may be interfering with the radar on weather apps, and residents should watch out for such disparities when using the resources, according to local meteorologists.
Chris Miller, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Lincoln, told The (Bloomington) Pantagraph that the massive turbines and the amount of wind they generate can interfere with nearby Doppler radar.
Radar can sometimes display what appears to be rain or storm in the area, when it’s actually wind from a farm. Farms from 20 to 100 miles (32 to 160 kilometers) away can influence readings, depending on atmospheric conditions, Miller said.
“So it makes it look like a rain shower or a storm or something that might be there, but like on (a day) where we don’t have a cloud in the sky, something will show up,” Miller said. “And that’s just because of the proximity of those turbines.”
The Lincoln weather service’s radar picks up on wind farms in Logan, Macon and McLean counties, Miller said.
Meteorologists use other information to filter out data from wind farms, but radar sent online or through phone apps may not include the same filters, Miller said.
“If someone is unfamiliar and they look at the data, there can be some confusion about why something is showing up that way,” Miller said.
Residents using a weather app can identify weather patterns that are actually wind farms by looking for a “radar loop” over a time lapse of the area, said Kevin Lighty, a meteorologist with WCIA-TV in Champaign.
“It’s pretty easy to pick out; (the wind farms) don’t move,” he said.
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