Weather radio considered

County looks into forecast service

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— Routt County's emergency manager wants to know if the public is interested in getting a weather radio transmitter that would provide local weather reports 24 hours a day.

The radio tower could be placed atop Walton Peak and would broadcast National Weather Service reports and alerts for Steamboat Springs, Craig, the Park and Gore ranges, the Flat Tops and other areas in and around the county.

"If there's enough need and desire and they (the public) believe in this, call my office," said Emergency Manager Chuck Vale.

Vale said he wouldn't want to start the process of applying for a federal grant if no one in the county is interested in the service.

If successful, the grant would pay for about $20,000 of the $30,000 tower. Vale said he would need to find another $10,000 to get the tower up and running.

"If we can find partners like the city, county, ski corp., Colorado Park Service, the mines and chamber those are the kind of people weather is important to," Vale said.

"Maybe they can help us find partners."

The tower would continue to be maintained by the federal government, with no more cost to residents in Routt County.

Individuals interested in weather radio would have to buy a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio or a multiband radio.

"Some new cars have the frequency loaded in their radios, so it's more of a push-button radio," said Chris Cuoco, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.

The broadcasts for Routt County will originate from Grand Junction.

"There will be forecasts and continuous updating," Cuoco said. "Observational data will be given every hour, and there will be long-range forecasts."

Right now, Routt County residents depend on their own eyes, local radio stations and Denver television stations to get weather reports.

While local radio and television actually get their information from Grand Junction's NWS station, the information will be more timely and detailed for Routt County, Cuoco said.

"You'll have a forecast that is actually based on all the technology we have available, including satellites and observations," Cuoco said. "You'll have a team of meteorologists that would have a very detailed forecast by turning on a button."

County Commissioner Dan Ellison expressed skepticism at some of the weather alerts that come out of Grand Junction's NWS office.

"If you paid attention to it if you believed it, you'd never go out of the house," Ellison said.

While weather alerts are not as critical in this part of the country like they are in states plagued by tornadoes, it is part of the service offered by the NWS.

"There's actually a feature where you can have the radio off, but it's in alert status," Cuoco said.

"The radio alarm goes off and the user hits a button to listen to the program at the time."

Cuoco said the weather radio would come in handy during snow storms, especially for places like Rabbit Ears Pass where road conditions can limit people's way in and out of the Yampa Valley.

"When we issue a winter warning for Rabbit Ears Pass, we would also be in communication with Routt County and State Patrol and get information about actual conditions from them," Cuoco said.

"That information would be placed in the weather forecast."

Vale said he would like the public to call his office at

870-5551 to offer comments on whether residents would like a weather radio tower in the county.

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