Warning system short of goal

Weather alert transmitter depends on donations

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— Efforts to bring a weather warning system to Routt County this summer could fall short without more donations.

Emergency services in Routt County kicked off a fund-raiser to bring continuous National Weather Service broadcasts to Northwest Colorado in June 2001.

Two years later, the county is in jeopardy of losing potential funding because donations have stopped.

The National Weather Service promised a matching grant to purchase the weather radio transmitter if the county could come up with $17,000.

The Colorado Division of Parks and Recreation, fire protection districts and other individuals responded early in the pledge drive with $3,300 in contributions.

But then the outpouring of financial support slowed to a trickle.

Routt County Emergency Manager Chuck Vale said the matching grant could disappear if the county can't raise another $14,000.

He pleaded with would-be donors to send in their pledges as soon as possible.

"If you really believe in this, please support it," Vale said. "We need the local community, outfitters and sportsmen, etc. to assist by contributing the remainder of the funding."

Vale is asking people who voiced support almost two years ago to consider following through with donations. He hopes the onset of summer and the severe weather it brings encourages more donations.

Residents and visitors to Routt County have little warning when severe weather arises.

The National Weather Service provides non-stop warnings, advisories and forecasts, but local entities need the hardware to receive that information.

The weather radio project includes the purchase of the transmitter and the cost of installation. Once the weather radio project receives full funding, the National Weather Service takes over and the county incurs no more costs.

Vale stressed that the entire county stands to benefit from the broadcasts. Weather advisories alert people to snow, freezing temperatures and small stream flood activities.

Routt County does not get severe weather such as tornadoes or hurricanes, but the weather can still turn ugly and catch people off guard, he said.

National Weather Radio is the only widespread source for automatic warning notification with a tone alarm.

The project would provide seven-day weather forecasts, hourly reports of current weather conditions and short-term forecasts up to six hours.

Anyone interested in helping fund the project can mail donations to the Weather Radio Project, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, Box 774408, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487.

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