Government agencies and commercial operations will get access to better data about the currents in the Delaware Bay—thanks to a new radar installed on Lewes Beach.
MARACOOS is a regional association which collects ocean and coastal data from North Carolina to Massachusetts. The organization recently expanded its ocean observing network with a new high-frequency radar station on Lewes Beach.
It’s a thin, white antenna about 18 feet tall—and sits in a protected dune area.
MARACOOS director Gerhard Kuska says the new tool will bounce a radio signal off the waves along the beach, to measure the surface currents. It’ll add to the data collected by a similar radar at Cape Henlopen and by a network of roughly 40 other stations in the mid-Atlantic region.
"By having more than one of these, we get a much more accurate picture of what's happening on the water,” Kuska said. “We’re going to be able to understand what's happening across the entire lower Delaware Bay.”
Kuska says the data are used for a wide range of purposes.
“These currents are useful for the U.S. Coast Guard for search and rescue,” he said. “If someone falls overboard or a vessel is unable to maneuver, they may call for help, and the Coast Guard needs to figure out where this vessel is going. Understanding where the currents are going helps them understand where they need to go, so they’ll find the people or the property quicker.”
Kuska says commercial mariners and pilots can also use the data for navigation. Weather forecasters can use it to predict coastal flooding.
MARACOOS will unveil the radar station at an event Friday afternoon. Lewes Mayor Ted Becker, state Rep. Stephen Smyk and U.S. Senator Tom Carper are scheduled to speak alongside officials from the University of Delaware, DNREC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).