Slog's favorite meteorologist, Cliff Mass, has an interesting post up that goes some way toward explaining why earmarks aren't turning out to be quite the issue that Republican Dino Rossi hoped they would be in the U.S. Senate Race. As it happens, when people—people like Mass, and plenty of other people across the state—find out what earmarks bring them, they're mighty grateful.

From Mass:

There has been a lot of talk in the U.S. Senate race in Washington State about earmarks, and I thought I might give my perspective based on some actual experience with them.

If you had asked me a few years, I would have been against them, but my mind has changed, based partly on my experience with the coastal radar. I now believe that earmarks are a useful tool, if used sparingly and with judgment.

Consider the coastal radar that will be installed next September on the central Washington coast. Without earmarks this extraordinarily important device, one that will save lives and greatly enhance our lives, would not have happened.

A classic argument against earmarks is that all appropriations should go through the normal process, with budget requests from agencies vetted by congressional committees. Sound good. But for over a decade many of us tried to go this route in pushing for the coastal radar. The case was compelling but some folks in the National Weather Service opposed it and letters from Congressmen and Senators fell on deaf ears.

Nothing happened until the big storm in December 2007, after which Senator Maria Cantwell took a personal interest in the project after listening to her constituents in coastal Washington.

Subsequently, with the aid of Senator Murray, Senator Cantwell was able to secure an EARMARK for the first two million dollars for the radar acquisition. And the rest is history.

He goes on to explain what the radar earmark is going to mean for him and the residents of the Washington coast, who will soon be able to look more clearly into approaching storms.

By the way, his take on the recent (and lingering) storm that hit the Pacific coast and soaked Seattle? Deep:

This is really turning into an extraordinary event. I can't remember over many years seeing this situation...a very deep system, slowly dying.