Marine weather broadcasts expanded

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- The Coast Guard and the National Weather Service plan to triple the area in Alaska where mariners can receive continuous weather reports on VHF radios.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Tom J. Barrett and weather service Regional Director Richard Przywarty signed a partnership agreement in Juneau Wednesday.

The agencies plan to install inexpensive, low-power transmitters on radio towers that the Coast Guard already has built on coastal mountains. The low-power transmitters will broadcast the weather service's continuous marine forecasts.

''The new transmissions will blanket Southeast pretty well and cover Prince William Sound and the back side of Kodiak Island,'' said Freddy Peters, who heads the weather service equipment branch in Alaska.

The Coast Guard currently uses the 28 towers to listen for mariners' radio distress calls and to broadcast twice-daily weather reports. The weather service broadcasts continuous reports but from sea-level transmitters whose reception is blocked by mountains and other land forms.

The agencies installed transmitters on Point Pigot in Prince William Sound last December and on Mount Robert Barron near Juneau in April. In mid-October they added transmitters on Althorp Peak near Elfin Cove, about 75 miles west of Juneau, and Cape Fanshaw just north of Kupreanof Island.

The agencies eventually want transmitters on all 28 of the Coast Guards high-level transmitting sites. The project is expected to cost the agencies less than $200,000.

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