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Wind Farms Can Interfere With Doppler Radar

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the whiteout-on-the-right-parts-of-the-screen dept.

Earth 179

T Murphy writes "Wind farms can appear like storms or tornadoes on Doppler radar when placed too close to the radar. Tornado alley is a good area for wind farms, and good terrain for the turbines is also ideal for Doppler radar. With many new farms being constructed, the problem is growing. A false tornado warning was issued in Kansas by a computer, although canceled by a meteorologist aware of the problem — there are fears that false positives will grow. Worse would be a tornado ignored as a wind turbine. While meteorologists are trying to work with wind farm owners to shut off the turbines during bad weather, they have no control over the placement or operation of the turbines. Efforts are being made to improve detection technology to avoid further problems."

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Simple fix? (2, Interesting)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253647)

Of course the turbulence will look like tornadoes, but can't they adjust the sensitivity to "if vortex 3m ignore" Or set them to scan Higher then 100m Or whatever the tallest turbine is in that region?

Re:Simple fix? (3, Insightful)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253705)

The problem is likely that the technology is very simple and as a result -- imprecise.

To "naive" persons like you and I, we may say it's too small or well couldn't you just program in that a vortex seen at this height (100m is quite a bit lower than where most funnel clouds are formed, cumulonimbus clouds are at 2000 ft), but it may be technically very difficult to distinguish in such a way. I've never worked with the data they gather so I can't speak expertly, but I'd imagine if it were a true 3 dimensional scan, you'd be able to easily determine the height and size of an anomaly and discount it or mark it way down on the danger scale, but that could be totally unreasonable.

Any meteorologists around?

Re:Simple fix? (4, Insightful)

E-Lad (1262) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253757)

I'm not sure that you realize the limitations of the radar systems themselves.

The nexrad doppler radar system uses systems designed in the early-mid 80's. Three meter resolution? Try 1km during the best situations.

Re:Simple fix? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29253953)

Three meter resolution? Try 1km during the best situations.

And derived products, which weather warnings are based off of, have even lower resolutions than 1km.

Re:Simple fix? (2, Interesting)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253927)

Eaven easier: Wind turbines don't move around - in other words: Their location is known and doesn't change.
It should be trivial to filter those out. What a non-story.

Re:Simple fix? (4, Informative)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254043)

Also, AFAIK the turbines shut down at wind speeds >25 m/s / ~55mph
Ah, found it here: [bwea.com] Wind turbines start operating at wind speeds of 4 to 5 metres per second (around 10 miles an hour) and reach maximum power output at around 15 metres/second (around 33 miles per hour). At very high wind speeds, i.e. gale force winds, (25 metres/second, 50+ miles/hour) wind turbines shut down.

Re:Simple fix? (1)

kevinT (14723) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254301)

The entire unit does not move, but the blades move in the wind and that is what the doppler radar picks up. The rotation of the blades around the hub - going first toward, and then away from the radar antenna causes the appearance of a tornado by the radar.

And - yes the unit does not generate power at higher speeds, but the blades still rotate in the wind when shutdown, so having the units shutdown does not eliminate the issue!

Re:Simple fix? (5, Informative)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254433)

but the blades still rotate in the wind when shutdown

No they don't, otherwise they would start spinnig too fast. and this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nSB1SdVHqQ [youtube.com] would happen. (blade hits the pole)

Re:Simple fix? (4, Informative)

JesVestervang (872086) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254847)

Newer turbines don't lock the rotor if there is no emergency - they just pitch the blades so that they will not turn the rotor significantly. Therefore, the rotor may actually still rotate (slowly) even when the turbine is shut down.

Re:Simple fix? (1)

kevinT (14723) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255151)

The video is of a turbine with a failure in the system that pitched the blades during high winds. As another poster noted, the blades will still rotate, slowly.

The video shows a catastrophic failure, caused by a failure in the system, not the blades moving too fast. Did the blade fail (separate from the hub) before it hit the pole? Is the quality of the YouTube video good enough to determine?

Re:Simple fix? (2, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255431)

yes the blades move in a circle obviously and yes that can be perceived as a tornado. But this 'tornado' would literally never move from the spot the pole is planted on.

Unless the radar is imaging the 'downwind' effects of the turbine, this should be a trivial thing to look at and see clearly for a false positive.

Re:Simple fix? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255421)

Of course the turbulence will look like tornadoes, but can't they adjust the sensitivity to "if vortex 3m ignore" Or set them to scan Higher then 100m Or whatever the tallest turbine is in that region?

Exactly. I don't see this being any more of an issue than either directly canvassing the research areas for wind farms or requiring wind farmers to report the locations of their farms to a database. ... now back to those birds... lol

Doppler Rarar is Gay Anyway (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29253655)

Any weather researcher that knows what he is doing has moved off of Doppler years ago.

It's all dynamic phased radar arrays now. These have no trouble with wind farms.

Re:Doppler Rarar is Gay Anyway (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255439)

man, you so totally missed the proper quote:

Fletch: Oh c'mon guys, it's so simple, maybe you need a refresher course. It's all ball bearings these days.

So it's down to.... (0, Troll)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253665)

cheap free energy vs pretty pictures of wind on weather.com

Gee.. I'm having a tough time deciding guys...

Re:So it's down to.... (5, Informative)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253795)

cheap free energy vs pretty pictures of wind on weather.com

Well tornado warnings can, in fact, save lives. [channel3000.com]

Re:So it's down to.... (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254469)

Sure but how many people freeze to death each year vs the number who die by tornado? Not to mention heat exhaustion, starvation because food can not be preserved, etc.

Energy is simply a far far bigger issue at this point. It would seem far more reasonable to expect the tornado warning systems to be redesigned rather than the wind turbines.

Re:So it's down to.... (1)

jmello (856993) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254835)

I think it would make much more sense to redesign the tornado. There's so much wind energy there waiting to be harnessed!

Re:So it's down to.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29254873)

And how much energy can windmills provide towards that?

Not nearly enough. At the most optimistic, they can provide 1% of power to the US.

Double that (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#29256043)

It hit double your "most optimistic" figure in 2008 and is growing fast, with *plenty* of places to stick in new towers. They haven't hardly started yet, let alone hit some "peak production" level. The US now surpasses Germany in total installed capacity and there are plans to keep increasing this for the foreseeable future. It has been the fastest growing segment in the electricity production market for some years now. A recent article: http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/131110/ [grandforksherald.com]

That's no wind farm! (1, Funny)

El Torico (732160) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253671)

Sorry, I couldn't help it.

Re:That's no wind farm! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29253935)

IT'S A TARP!

why ignore common sense? (2, Interesting)

get quad (917331) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253701)

Simple solution - pan/tilt/zoom IP-based cameras placed within each wind farm where we can actually SEE if there's an oncoming tornado, etc. Very small investment considering the cost of the actual wind farm itself. Welcome to the new millenium.

Re:why ignore common sense? (2, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253801)

Very small investment considering the cost of the actual wind farm itself.

I'm sure the hardware investment would be relatively small, but the cost to put eyes in front of the screens would probably be much more significant.

Re:why ignore common sense? (1)

get quad (917331) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253823)

Not if it's the same people watching the radar and looking at the cams only during potential storm scenarios.

Re:why ignore common sense? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255467)

in Tornado alley, pretty much every day in spring/summer is a potential storm scenario isn't it?

Re:why ignore common sense? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255463)

Very small investment considering the cost of the actual wind farm itself.

I'm sure the hardware investment would be relatively small, but the cost to put eyes in front of the screens would probably be much more significant.

Nope. From the article it is quite apparent that weather researchers are already present to ring the alarm in the first place --- thus those can be informed of the simple camera resource concept that GetQuad suggested --- something that could take a good 15 seconds to look at and then make an informed choice from.

Your skepticism implies a falsehood that simple and practical applications are not feasible with today's technology and innovation.

Maps? (5, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253707)

If only the wind turbines were on stationary towers, then they might be able to map them, and use such a map to inform their interpretation of the radar data.

Re:Maps? (4, Interesting)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253827)

If only the wind turbines were on stationary towers, then they might be able to map them, and use such a map to inform their interpretation of the radar data.

Exactly and then ignore the Doppler readings of that area, and instead take notice when a bunch of turbines suddenly go offline.

Re:Maps? (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255015)

instead take notice when a bunch of turbines suddenly go offline.

The only problem with that plan is that a warning is supposed to come before something bad happens.

Re:Maps? (1)

SeeSp0tRun (1270464) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255123)

The only problem with that plan is that a warning is supposed to come before something bad happens.

Assuming your wind farm is not in a city, what good is a warning going to do to a wind farm?
It isn't exactly like they are going to hide in the storm cellar. Consider them going down your sign to mash your "Tornado Warning" button.

Re:Maps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29255179)

if you have turbines and you notice bad enough weather, gtfo. people in rural areas are generally much more wary of things like tornadoes, and much more in tune with the weather, especially if you're talking about farmer dan (who is most likely to have turbines) who spends most of his life out in the weater

Re:Maps? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255483)

If only the wind turbines were on stationary towers, then they might be able to map them, and use such a map to inform their interpretation of the radar data.

Exactly and then ignore the Doppler readings of that area, and instead take notice when a bunch of turbines suddenly go offline.

That answer is too simple! We *must* find an impossible flaw in this green tech! umm.. err... The Birds!!!

(sarcasm)

Re:Maps? (4, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254101)

If only the wind turbines were on stationary towers, then they might be able to map them, and use such a map to inform their interpretation of the radar data.

If only the tip voitices stayed at the blades, rather than trailing for miles downwind.

If only "downwind" was always the same direction, rather than moving around when the wind changes - especially when it changes rapidly during a storm.

If only the vortices were reliably visible to the radar, rather than sending a variable strength return depending on how many raindrops are getting blown around by each section of it at any given moment.

= = = =

More interestingly: The conditions that form tornadoes are weather-driven but the exact location they form, path they take, and indeed whether the finally DO form, are dependent on local things that disturb the airflow. Like mountains. And buildings. And forests. And freeways full of moving cars. And big windmills...

Tornadoes have been documented to prefer to form up a short distance downwind of expressways. Perhaps the twisting air behind the mills of a wind farm will trigger the tornadoes in that area.

If so it might be good: Triggering them in particular, known, mostly uninhabited spaces. Triggering them when the storm is not fully formed so they can dissipate the energy as small vortices - maybe not even making it to the ground - rather than letting conditions build until you finally get a small number of big skyscraper-topplers.

Re:Maps? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29254353)

If only you knew how to close italic tags. Shitcock.

Re:Maps? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255611)

Shitcock

Aren't you confusing the receiver and the giver here?

Re:Maps? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254403)

If only the wind turbines were on stationary towers, then they might be able to map them, and use such a map to inform their interpretation of the radar data.

If only the tip voitices stayed at the blades, rather than trailing for miles downwind.

If only "downwind" was always the same direction, rather than moving around when the wind changes - especially when it changes rapidly during a storm.

If only the vortices were reliably visible to the radar, rather than sending a variable strength return depending on how many raindrops are getting blown around by each section of it at any given moment.

You see the glass half empty, I see the glass half full. Someday, a PHD student is going to gather all that "useless interfering noisy junk data", filter it back into an extremely detailed physical wind model, to improve tornado formation detection and write their dissertation. I say someday, assuming that someone isn't already doing it. Possibly, in the future, it will be a marketing advantage to have a wind turbine generally upwind of a trailer park, because suitably advanced radar DSP technology makes it easier to detect tornadoes headed for the trailer park...

Re:Maps? (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255135)

it will be a marketing advantage to have a wind turbine generally upwind of a trailer park, because suitably advanced radar DSP technology makes it easier to detect tornadoes headed for the trailer park...

I have a vision...

A wide-eyed Jethro and Shalene in the property management offices while having "Advanced Radar DSP technology" being explained to them. "So you is sayin, that y'all know about the tornadoes before theys gets here? No shit... Shalene you go tell yo momma her wish is coming true.. we moving out."

And another one...

A local news reporter interviewing Billy-Bob with a destroyed trailer park in the background... "Uhuh.. thanks to that fancy DSuP radar technology from Redneck Solutions we was able to get out in time without losing anybody this year.... and I was able to save the beer."

Re:Maps? (2, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255563)

If only the wind turbines were on stationary towers, then they might be able to map them, and use such a map to inform their interpretation of the radar data.

If only the tip voitices stayed at the blades, rather than trailing for miles downwind.

If only "downwind" was always the same direction, rather than moving around when the wind changes - especially when it changes rapidly during a storm.

If only the vortices were reliably visible to the radar, rather than sending a variable strength return depending on how many raindrops are getting blown around by each section of it at any given moment.

You see the glass half empty, I see the glass half full. Someday, a PHD student is going to gather all that "useless interfering noisy junk data", filter it back into an extremely detailed physical wind model, to improve tornado formation detection and write their dissertation. I say someday, assuming that someone isn't already doing it. Possibly, in the future, it will be a marketing advantage to have a wind turbine generally upwind of a trailer park, because suitably advanced radar DSP technology makes it easier to detect tornadoes headed for the trailer park...

Most people do not quite grasp the entirety of the level of technology and innovation that humans have attained to date. It is hard for those who do not understand this to see the glass as you did.

An example of this:
Right now I hear a TON of people constantly upset about plastics going into landfills "FOREVER!!"... I laugh about this because I kinda see it more of a temporary storage (given it doesn't get lit on fire or something lame).

We have, in today's mechanical/software/systems engineering capacities, the ability to design and produce Wall-E like robots that detect and sort complex mixtures of substrates into separate bins/allocations for recycling. This is not a hard thing to do, at all, if you follow and see the current state of robotics, software engineering, etc... I read physorg.com all the time and see so many potentials between the lines.

And so until someone (I hope some rich investor reads this and takess my idea and makes these robots) gets this idea and develops it --- yes, the plastic will be there 'FOREVER!'... but hopefully, someday, we'll allocate resources either privately or publicly to make what is already possible 'happen' and undo the damnation of 'forever'. lol.

Some estimates of technology place 90% of human activities to be automatable. When I think about it, I smile about how true it is when I imagine the possibilities, and then frown at how we presently 'waste' our time by not innovating these automations today.

Re:Maps? (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254127)

This is related to the serious risk of false negatives - i.e. a tornado not caught.

Scientists will probably try to model the effect the windmills have on readings, but that can become a full-time job with 10 to 20 thousand wind turbines in the US (this is an estimate, I can't find the exact number), and more popping up all the time.

Also, the accuracy of these models may be a concern. Does the the effect wind farms have on radar change with wind patterns? If so where will the models get this wind information from?

Re:Maps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29254225)

If only they could, you know, calibrate the radar..
Regular arrangement of metal poles may cause problems with radio. Wow!

"Shut down" a wind farm? (0)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253713)

My question is: how do you "shut down" a wind farm? The wind blows, the windmills turn.

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (3, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253761)

You turn the wings of the wind wheel so the resulting force is zero.

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253765)

There are many ways, and this is necessary to protect turbines against storm damage anyway.

The most obvious for large turbine IMHO is to have blades with adjustable pitch and change the pitch so that they simply extract no energy from the air and stop turning.

Rgds

Damon

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (5, Informative)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253773)

Two types of control:

Stall Controlled Wind Turbines (Passive) stall controlled wind turbines have the rotor blades bolted onto the hub at a fixed angle. The geometry of the rotor blade profile, however has been aerodynamically designed to ensure that the moment the wind speed becomes too high, it creates turbulence on the side of the rotor blade which is not facing the wind as shown in the picture on the previous page. This stall prevents the lifting force of the rotor blade from acting on the rotor.

Pitch Controlled Wind Turbines On a pitch controlled wind turbine the turbine's electronic controller checks the power output of the turbine several times per second. When the power output becomes too high, it sends an order to the blade pitch mechanism which immediately pitches (turns) the rotor blades slightly out of the wind. Conversely, the blades are turned back into the wind whenever the wind drops again.
Taken from: www.windpower.org/en/tour/wtrb/powerreg.htm

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (5, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254163)

You missed yaw controlled wind turbines - the common system for homebrewed and also the old "patent windmill" designs like classic the water-pumpers. These pivot the tail which makes the mill turn sideways to the wind to reduce power input or even stop the mill.

Many modern homebrew designs use an off-center and tilted tail pivot and a slightly offset turbine axis, plus a couple stops to limit the tail travel (mainly to avoid it hitting the blades). Combined with the weight of the tail this makes the mill automatically yaw-furl in high winds to prevent electrical overheating or overspeed mechanical stresses.

Some homebrewed wind generators, once they're stopped, are sometimes KEPT stopped by shorting the output, whichmakes them act like an electric brake. The blades rotate very slowly and stay in aerodynamic stall. But trying to do that when they're under power in a storm is more likely to burn out the generator than stop the mill. Available power goes up with the CUBE of the windspeed, torque with the square, and heating from current in a permanent-magnet alternator with the FOURTH POWER.

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253781)

I'd assume that it depends on the type; but some windmills and wind turbines have a provision for changing the angle of the blades to control how effectively wind of a given strength turns them. Useful for preventing damage in higher-than-expected winds.

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (1)

pw700z (679598) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253783)

I believe the blades have a variable pitch, so you set the pitch to "zero" so the air moving past them does not make them rotate.

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (4, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253815)

My question is: how do you "shut down" a wind farm? The wind blows, the windmills turn.

It's called a brake [wikipedia.org] .

This is what slashdot is for, making you aware of complicated technology which you couldn't possibly have heard of from other sources ;-)

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254757)

Yeah. And when the brake brakes, then either the wind breaks the blades, or the brakes brake themselves, when the wind is too strong. Groundbreaking, indeed!

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255303)

You think a simple brake makes sense in this situation huh?

Look above, there are very good answers for "complicated technology which (I) couldn't possibly have heard of from other sources"

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29253851)

All electricity-generating windmills have adjustable-pitch blades.

Power stations can't just produce as much power as they feel like, since electricity can't practically be stored. It has to be used up within about one second of hitting the grid, and if the demand is not there, you need to be shutting down generators.

To deal with this, windmills have adjustable blades so they can extract a variable amount of energy from the wind.

In severe weather, modern windmills are set up to constantly adjust the pitch in response to varying winds just to minimize the excess load on the blades and spine. This is no different that a pilot flying through turbulent air constantly steering the aircraft to minimized the shaking and stress on the airframe.

Re:"Shut down" a wind farm? (5, Funny)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254063)

Won't they run backwards when the weather sucks?

Shut off turbines during bad weather? (1)

drawfour (791912) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253715)

While meteorologists are trying to work with wind farm owners to shut off the turbines during bad weather

I must really be missing something -- it seems to me that during bad weather, these wind farms could really be craking out the electricity! Why would the wind farms _want_ to shut down during those times?

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29253747)

Wind speeds above the maximum design speed will tear the mechanical gearing apart - that is if the wind surfaces don't rip off first.

Most wind turbines already automatically lock themselves when wind speeds exceed certain design specifications to protect themselves from damage.

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253911)

Most wind turbines already automatically lock themselves when wind speeds exceed certain design specifications to protect themselves from damage.

I imagine the newer pitch-controlled turbines would instead just adjust the blade pitch to compensate for higher wind speeds, while still operating near the maximum power output. I doubt they would want to shut down during storms when they could be producing lots of energy.

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253777)

Not exactly sure, but this might be a clue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3FZtmlHwcA [youtube.com] ..

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (1)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254087)

Interesting. Looked like the tower failed (bent) and then the blades impacted the tower. Instead of canting the blades, they should build a stronger tower. ... Profit!

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254511)

No, it was the BLADES that bent : further and further until they hit the tower.

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29253789)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nSB1SdVHqQ might answer your question.

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (1, Interesting)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253797)

Because it's sometimes really scary to have hundred foot turbine blades flying many many thousands of feet really really fast.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3FZtmlHwcA [youtube.com]
Same one as above in slow motion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvvRHhsQhi8 [youtube.com]

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29253819)

Energy in wind is proportional to the cube of velocity. Once the wind gets going that fast, if you don't use some aerodynamic tricks to shut down, (sorry, that's not my field.) something usually either fries or breaks.

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253829)

While meteorologists are trying to work with wind farm owners to shut off the turbines during bad weather

I must really be missing something -- it seems to me that during bad weather, these wind farms could really be craking out the electricity! Why would the wind farms _want_ to shut down during those times?

If the wind is too strong, they break. Same with masts and sails of olden wind tech.

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254397)

Same with masts and sails of olden wind tech.

Wrong. You do know what furling a sail means?

Re:Shut off turbines during bad weather? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255413)

Same with masts and sails of olden wind tech.

Wrong. You do know what furling a sail means?

Is it a technique meant to reduce sail surface in order to prevent damage caused by too strong a wind?

So? (0, Troll)

c.waffle (1355683) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253719)

Who cares. This isn't news, it's someones problem at work.

Do wind turbines prevent tornados? (2, Insightful)

pw700z (679598) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253755)

I am not a meteorologist, but don't tornadoes occur because there is a horizontal boundary between two different types of air masses, and the tornado acts as a funnel to equalize the pressure between the two or something? Maybe wind turbines, and the mixed and turbulence they cause actually prevent tornadoes. Who knows? And, don't many tornadoes occur over particularly flat land? The turbines might reshape the landscape enough to disturb the atmosphere enough to prevent them. Turbines looking like tornadoes on radar make me think i'm not totally crazy.

Re:Do wind turbines prevent tornados? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29253791)

Not having trailer parks prevents tornadoes.

Conclusion: Wind farms cause tornados (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29253849)

Wind farms look like tornados on radar --> wind farms and tornados are the same --> wind farms cause tornados

Time to start a panic. Snopes here I come
/
/

For extra credit:
Tornados are a weather event --> all major weather changes are caused by global warming --> wind farms cause global warming

Not such a big deal. (4, Informative)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253857)

Tornado warnings are extremely vague. Anyone who has spent significant time living in tornado alley can tell you they are routinely ignored. And the new technologies that attempt to pinpoint tornadoes exactly (TVS, VIPIR) aren't as accurate as they're made out to be. False positives are nothing new.

Non problem with modern Doppler weather radar (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29253913)

IAMFWDWR (I am a meteorologist familiar with Doppler weather radar) and it doesn't worry me at all. There are lots of objects that cause the same types of problems, including rotating radar antennas and buildings.

When a weather radar system is set up the technicians will do a radar survey of the area and then flag areas for the computer (called an RPG, Radar Product Generator) to ignore. For a wind farm they'd look for an area in low scan levels with a high spectrum width and low to zero velocity and tell the RPG to ignore them. If these areas are too far away from the radar, they won't even be noticed by the radar (all scans are pointed slightly "upwards" so even with the lowest scan level something 200 feet tall would not be sensed unless it was within about 4.5 miles of the radar, give or take) unless you have a problem with subrefraction where the radar beam is bent downwards due to atmospheric effects. This would probably be the only time that the situation would cause a false positive and a meteorologist with any amount of common sense is going to investigate the area as it wouldn't be moving at all and would only appear in one or two scan levels.

The automatic warnings generated by a NEXRAD system are helpful, but are nowhere near foolproof. A competent meteorologist will be able to investigate the areas and determine if a weather warning or advisory is warranted within only a few minutes. (generally less than 30 seconds with a proper setup) Detection technology is already in place and easily enacted. Article is ignorance at best, and scaremongering at worst.

Re:Non problem with modern Doppler weather radar (1)

mortonda (5175) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255361)

Thank you for that, and I would also like to ask, where is a picture of the supposed false alarm? Wouldn't the article be more informative if they had included that? I'm curious to know how it could even look the same.

Re:Non problem with modern Doppler weather radar (4, Interesting)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255499)

There are lots of objects that cause the same types of problems, including rotating radar antennas and buildings.

Yes, I heard this story last week at my local Fox affiliate, WFLD. The chief meteorologist stepped in at the end of the story and explained that there are lots of things that can cause these types of problems. He mentioned specifically that condensation from a cooling lake at a nearby nuclear power plant looks like a thunderstorm all of the time. But since they know about it, they can ignore it.

He concluded that he felt this story was blown out of proportion.

On Fox? (5, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#29256123)

So a Fox affiliate employee took the opportunity to...

1) Downplay some senseless and sensationalist bit of fear-mongering...
2) While saying something nice about a green technology that suffers from a lot of NIMBYism...
3) And he based it all on solid science and some common sense?

He was fired immediately after, right?

Military issues. (3, Interesting)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 5 years ago | (#29253965)

The United Kingdom military has had to stop the development of some wind farms because it would leave a blind spot to their early warning systems. Their government has doled out a fair bit of cash to find a solution to the issue.

Re:Military issues. (1)

BandoMcHando (85123) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255379)

Completely different issue there though, that one is due to the regular array of windmills acting like a diffraction grating and proucing multiple radar images of a given object. (Or so I've heard anyway).

The turbines are in a fixed location (0, Redundant)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254001)

In that case, you can obviously tell the radar to ignore readings with such-and-such parameters in the spot with the turbines. It's not like the turbines are going to be traveling SSE at 30 MPH.

It's very much like ground clutter caused by buildings with older radar systems.

Re:The turbines are in a fixed location (4, Funny)

maugle (1369813) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254153)

It's not like the turbines are going to be traveling SSE at 30 MPH.

With a strong enough tornado, they just might.

Solvable problem (2, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254013)

Wind turbines should have a more or less predictable (and hence, recognizable) radar signature. IIRC the US military use turbine signatures (of aircraft engines) as part of non-cooperative target recognition (NCTR), i.e. the ability to recognize the aircraft type from a radar return, without having to rely on IFF transponders. But this probably requires better radars and processing than Nexrad can provide.

"Incoming missile identified; tracking,...." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29254049)

"Locked, .... and waiting for confirmation"

Ooops [youtube.com] .

Sorry about that.

Yours In Peace,
K. Trout

I can't wait for the oil industry lobbyists' take: (4, Funny)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254085)

I can't wait for the Gas & Oil industry lobbyists' take on it.
Oil & Gas industry:

Wind Farms CAN CAUSE TORNADOES. We in America want a SAFE & reliable source of energy. Not risk the lives of our children. Call your congressman today and tell him to support for Clean & safe oil & gas energy, not life-threatening wind farms. Not in our country.

Re:I can't wait for the oil industry lobbyists' ta (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254791)

Answer from Jon Steward: Ah, you mean those oil & gas companies with their own armies killing dozens of people and owning whole foreign countries? Or do you mean those who use the US army, kill tenthousands of people and *invade* foreign countries? Because I'm not quite sure, which one you mean...

Re:I can't wait for the oil industry lobbyists' ta (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255215)

What about all the people from the Key Atomic Benefits Office Of Mankind? They have a powerful lobby too...

If.. Then (2, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254093)

If the tornado is occurring where the wind farm is, it's the turbines.

If the tornado is occurring where the wind farm is, and the electricity goes out, it's not the turbines.

It'd be a damn shame with all this great technology and great problems to solve if they had to rely on a phone call to a guy at the wind farm who had to look out the window for them in order to know whether there was a tornado or not.

So... (1, Funny)

bXTr (123510) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254099)

The wind farms are interfering with radar systems used to detect storms which have increased in number and intensity due to global warming caused by burning fossil fuels which we are trying to reduce by building wind farms. It's like a never ending cycle of bullshit.

Re:So... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254841)

Let's call it "global farming"!

Just go back (5, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254123)

They should just go back to coal-fired nuclear power plants.

Re:Just go back (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255075)

They should just go back to coal-fired nuclear power plants.

Why is this modded funny? coal fired nuclear is the safest power generation method since ever, the radiation decays overnight and is perfectly safe to use in all of our homes.

Today

Ah wind turbines of course... (1)

slapscan (1604401) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254151)

When I read the title, farms full of farting cows came to mind initially...

Wrong department (1)

mr exploiter (1452969) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254199)

This is from slashdot-nuclear-loby-department

Windmill interference on Buffalo, NY radar (2, Interesting)

doninwny (1628081) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254211)

http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=buf&product=N0R&overlay=11101111&loop=no [weather.gov] Perfect example, if you look at the National Weather Service radar for Buffalo, southeast of the "o" in Buffalo you'll see an orange strip, there are about 100 windmills on hills about 25-30 miles from the airport weather station reflecting the Doppler back.

wind speed sensors (2, Interesting)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254337)

Put simple wind speed sensors (and other weather reporting gizmos) at each big wind tower, have them automatically update that info upstream so it can be cross referenced. If the remote radar says tornado in the direction of a tower, but the tower only reports a 40 mile an hour wind...you can nail the false positives easier. Turn a liability into thousands of new weather reporting assets.

Re:wind speed sensors (3, Informative)

BlackThorne_DK (688564) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254689)

I think most of the towers already have sensors, since they need them to detect when to shut down. The collection of data is another matter, but it shouldn't be too hard to do, some guys over here already did it [middelgrund.com]

Ya (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255059)

Ya, I was still thinking about that after I posted, that they simply must already have a turbine tach installed so they would know windspeed. And for sure they have power and must report various things to their control panel admins for monitoring. Seems not much of a stretch at all to have this info forwarded to the weather and radar folks. Probably useful data to have anyway, long term precise wind speeds and other sorts of weather information.

Opportunities, not problems (4, Interesting)

overshoot (39700) | more than 5 years ago | (#29254367)

Is this a problem, or is it a Good Thing we're missing?

All of those turbines make pretty decent wind speed/direction instruments, and they're all connected. How much would it cost to rig data feeds from them to the weather data collection system? I mean, if the weather computers are reading a Doppler shift from an area where there are wind farms but the wind turbines are all indicating 80 kph winds in the same direction it's not hard to figure out what's going on. Likewise if they're showing major surface-level wind shear around a vertical axis!

Effortlessly stupid article (1, Redundant)

sgt101 (120604) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255351)

And no one has realized that wind farms are static?

1. Detect Tornado
2. If it is at the same place as any windfarm
2a Ignore detection
else
2b Register detection
3 Make money, live free and sing.

I prey for the death of people who come up with such dumb shit every day, but Satan has not yet answered me.

Who will give me justice ?

Jesus?

Re:Effortlessly stupid article (1)

Grieviant (1598761) | more than 5 years ago | (#29256211)

Sounds like the practical solution, although somewhat suboptimal. The echo from the windmill array will obscure the terrain behind it (from the radar's point of view) to some extent. You could run into the situation of a real storm being missed by the radar, i.e. a false rejection, which can be more serious than the false alarms TFA eludes to.

Classical radar system typically use some form of a constant false alarm rate algorithm [wikipedia.org] to differentiate between unwanted background clutter and the object of interest they're trying to detect. In effect, the clutter establishes the baseline received signal of your system, and you're looking for signal strength returns above the baseline. This works fine when the surrounding environment is relatively static. The situation sounds a little more complicated here because they're claiming that the reflection strength varies depending on the windmill speed. A more sophisticated detection algorithm might be able to provide improved reliability (in the vicinity of the windmills) by accounting for these variations rather than just ignoring everything from that area.

Wind farm topography? (1)

Asterra (1087671) | more than 5 years ago | (#29255589)

When the day comes that wind farms are developed which resemble, from a bird's eye view, a doppler hook echo which happens to travel at about 30 mph, THEN I might worry about true/false positives being misinterpreted/ignored.

Simple fix... (2, Interesting)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 5 years ago | (#29256155)

Have these wind turbines registered with the National Weather Service and mark the locations in the system. Also, place transponders on the turbines to verify their operational status. If a tornado is detected near a known turbine location and the turbine fails to report its status, there probably is "something" in the area bad enough to damage a turbine.

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