MRMS changes as of April 22, 2022

MRMS radar image
MRMS got a facelift this week when 23 Canadian doppler radars were added to the product. Image courtesy: AllisonHouse Maps

Hello everyone,

As we are now in the heart of severe weather season across the central U.S., I’m happy to announce the availability of MRMS 12.2 on AllisonHouse Maps, GREarth, and other AllisonHouse supported software.
The biggest change by far with this update is the dropping of all Canadian radars that haven’t been replaced by new radars (there’s just a small amount, and those will be gone within the next 2 years).. Most importantly, it adds the 23 new doppler radars in Canada that make up their modern radar network. Over the last several years, Canada has been replacing their old radars with modern dual-pol doppler radars, like we have in the United States. Now, our customers in Canada and close to the border will be able to see precipitation echoes once again, and also at high (1 degree per 1 km) resolution. Furthermore, the addition of these radars will go beyond RALA and other reflectivity products.

Additionally, better interference and ground clutter/wind farm suppression is seen in this version, improvements to radar QPE have been made, and gauge ingest has been implemented to improve the accuracy of rainfall amounts that have already fallen.

For a compete list of all the changes, see:

GOES-T is now GOES-18!

GOES-T has become GOES-18, and should become GOES-West and replace the problematic GOES-17 in May. Image credit: NOAA

GOES-T successfully reached orbit on March 14, 2022. Here’s what is going to happen next:

The solar panels will be unfolded, and a power up of the satellite should occur. Then, the instruments will be tested as the new satellite is placed in it’s final location looking down on the western United States, Hawaii, Alaska, and the Pacific Ocean. Finally, once everything is checked and everything is found to be in good order, it will take over the duties of GOES-17.

You can see in my previous post the advantages GOES-18 has, but it doesn’t involve imagery per se (although this satellite will provide continuous imagery, 24 hours a day now). But nevertheless, it will be more reliable than our current GOES-17. And when the data comes online, AllisonHouse will provide it through AllisonHouse Maps, placefiles, and more. We can’t wait until it comes online!

A word about the Saturday, March 5th event in Iowa

Intense thunderstorm
An intense thunderstorm pummels DeKalb, IL with lightning that partially knocked out a communications tower for the city. Image courtesy: Gilbert Sebenste

On March 5, 2022, at least 6 tornadoes touched down in Iowa, one of which stayed on the ground for nearly 70 miles, killed 6 people, including 2 children, and injured 5 more.

Although that was bad, it was potentially made worse by a National Weather Service network misconfiguration in Dallas, TX. That caused delays of 2-10 minutes of all severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings that were issued for much of the day.

The delay was within the National Weather Service network. Once the bulletin made it to the National Weather Service Telecommunications Gateway, we at AllisonHouse received the bulletin in a matter of a few seconds.

According to the Associated Press, The Daily Mail, and, the up to 10 minute delays made the National Weather Service Des Moines, IA office do their best to issue the warnings several minutes earlier than they normally would have(1). They were fully aware of what was going on, as they were not seeing their own bulletins in their media/Emergency Manager chat room, or on local TV and other media.

This affected almost everybody, including AllisonHouse, our competition and all private weather companies, the National Weather Service itself, and everything else except NOAA Weather Radio. There was no warning delay with that service. But ALL text messages, app alerts, and all AllisonHouse-supported software were impacted.

I made a post several months ago about the equipment issues at the National Weather Service, and while we do everything we can to mitigate or at least reduce the impacts of delays and outages, there was nothing anyone could have done in this case…except make sure you had a NOAA Weather Radio, which AllisonHouse very strongly recommends you have as redundancy.

Even with this data delay, we still receive and pass on to you the warnings as fast and as reliably as we possibly can. Of that, you can rest assured…no matter what happens.