House Calls


The need for speed

One thing that has hobbled the National Weather Service in getting data to its offices…and to us…is that their data connection has been fairly slow. Too slow for the new high-resolution models to be sent at full resolution via their satellite feed. Well, that’s about to change, in a big way!

The satellite delivered data feed called NOAAport is the lifeblood of data to National Weather Service offices nationwide. The local forecast offices send the data to the NWS via fiber; everyone gets that data back via this satellite feed. And, starting September 1, if all goes well, that feed will more than triple in speed…to faster than the average cable modem speed. And that’s saying a bunch!

One of things we have been also doing is doing quality analysis for this new feed. It’s currently in “beta”, if you will, and I’ve been finding things that have caused others to avoid pitfalls, and have helped the National Weather Service, and educational institutions, see issues and also maximize those feeds for their potential. We want our partners in the educational community to have the best data for research, and by giving back in this way, they can learn about our atmosphere using data that, who knows…might lead to the next step in the understanding of our atmosphere!

Why is this important for AllisonHouse customers? In the near future, more and reliable data and models will be sent across that feed to us. We eagerly await GOES-R data, with amazing resolution, both spatial and temporal, that will change satellite meteorology forever, in the years to come. Then there’s new model data—oodles of it coming! A lot of it is either under wraps or in the planning stages right now. But starting in late September, the popular High Resolution Rapid Refresh model will be available over this feed as soon as it becomes available, with more parameters to choose from, hot off our satellite dishes!

As these new data sources and the various model output come online, AllisonHouse is committed to not only bring you the latest and greatest at the best possible price, but also more value, and to help you make the best choices for however weather affects you or your institution. In the future, as NOAAport adds more satellite imagery and data, we’ll work with our partners to integrate them into their software as well. This means better data and information for you, to help you see what is happening more clearly. And that means better decision-making. Whether you are a weather spotter, wondering if the water park should be shut down, or should I really drive into THAT?….AllisonHouse will continue to be the place where you bring the awesome…as we thank you, our awesome customers! And we’ll keep you updated as to the new data available coming to us…and to you…in the months and years to come.

New AWOS sites online in Virginia!

Hello everyone,

In my last post on June 6, you saw the list of new METARs that came online with the FAA database “reset” day. Since then, several new AWOS sites have come online in Virginia. New ones that came online over the last two days include:

KBKT – Fort Pickett / Blackstone, VA
KLVL – Lawrenceville, VA
KW81 -Crewe, VA

One more is due soon:

KW31 – Kenbridge, VA

Watch for that to come online soon, plus any others around the country that come online as well.

Time to do a reset!

Hello everyone,

Gilbert here. I hope you have thawed out from this ridiculously cold winter!

Today, we begin a monthly series on weather or weather-related topics. Sometimes, we’ll take you behind the scenes of how the weather “data” machine works, like today.

When you look at GRx placefiles, or Pykl3, for example, you can see the METAR reports plotted on your screen: these are the weather reports sent from the various airports throughout the country. METAR stands for Meteorological Terminal Aviation Routine Weather Report. These typically give the temperature, dewpoint, and wind direction and speed; many give sky cover, visibility, pressure, and any precipitation that is falling. Some staffed sites provide comments on the sky condition that gives a more in-depth view of what the observer is seeing.

In the United States, these weather reports are routed by the FAA to something called NADIN. NADIN is a secure, transmission protocol for METAR reports, and the National Weather Service takes METARs from that feed and rebroadcasts it to the world via satellite. Data providers may also get the feed directly, as we do at AllisonHouse.

Every 56 days, the FAA updates its database so that any new sites that have come online in that time period can start reporting METARs. Otherwise, and until that point, they get filtered out! It sounds crazy, but that’s how the FAA does it. If a station starts reporting METARs, and is already in the FAA database, then there’s no problem; they are sent on the feed immediately. Otherwise, they have to wait until that 56 day period is over before they can be added. More interesting: Once the new sites are added on the reset day, it can take weeks, months or even years for the National Weather Service to add them to their data feed! That’s why we, at AllisonHouse, get them directly from the FAA NADIN feed. Once they are available, we plot them for you immediately!

This “reset” of the database happened on June 5, 2014. And, a bunch of new METAR sites were added! Some were also in the database and added just before the reset. Here are 29 new sites to look for now, with this list compiled nicely by Boris Konon (thanks, Boris!):

0V4 – Brookneal VA
1A9 – Prattville AL
1L0 – Reserve LA
3N8 – Mahnomen MN
4I7 – Greencastle IN
8W2 – New Market VA
CXE – Chase City VA
ELK – Elk City OK
FYM – Fayetteville TN
GNF – Grenada MS
GUR – Guernsey WY
GVE – Gordonsville VA
LCQ – Lake City FL
MEV – Minden NV
MOR – Morristown TN
MYZ – Marysville KS
PAAD – Deadhorse/Point Thomson AK
PAUT – Akutan AK
PHT – Paris TN
RCV – Del Norte CO
RNC – McMinnville TN
RZT – Chillicothe OH
SNH – Savannah TN
SXS – Fort Rucker/Shell AL
SYI – Shelbyville TN
W75 – Saluda VA
W78 – South Boston VA
W96 – Quinton VA
Y49 – Walker MN

These are all in our database, and you should see them now on all GRx placefiles. Enjoy, and watch for new ones from Tennessee and Kentucky, amongst other places, in the future!