AWIPS-2 customers: A new version is out!

Ryan is a user of AWIPS-2, and he, like our other AWIPS-2 customers, will enjoy the new features and reliability from the new version that has been released by UNIDATA.

One of our products here at AllisonHouse is a public version of AWIPS-2, the weather display and product generating software found and used extensively at every National Weather Service forecast office here in the United States. The public version, made by UNIDATA, takes away the ability to issue your own warnings and products and send them out (for obvious good reasons!), but lets you do most of everything else, including displaying extensive genres of weather data, exactly as you would find it operationally.

Over the next few days, AllisonHouse will upgrade the backend server portion of it to this new version. What will it mean for you? Check out these changes, here:

https://www.unidata.ucar.edu/blogs/news/category/AWIPS

For our AWIPS-2 users: you can install the new version right now (but install the dependencies first found in the instructions on the link they provide…that will take a little time to do!). And when our backend servers get upgraded by December 31, 2021, the new products will come online for you to use.

We recommend you do this upgrade ASAP. On the backend/our side of things, this improves AWIPS-2 service to you in two major ways:

1. The METAR and upper air databases get updated automatically as new stations come online and the master AWIPS- files upstream get updated.

2. Data reliability. Serious bugs in the backend software ingestion of data have been fixed. This will allow us to feed data from redundant servers, just like we do with the rest of our infrastructure!

These two AWIPS-2 issues are something I have wanted corrected, and I have had them in the bug list, and they fixed them pretty quickly! Although we have had little downtime with AWIPS-2, this will cut down rare data outages even more.

On your end of things, we hope you will enjoy the new GLM products, the new GOES-17 products, and the other additions and bugfixes found in this new version. As always, if you have any questions, or would like to get AWIPS-2 data from your computer, just send us a message! We’d love to hear from you.

Lightning data improvement comes to AllisonHouse customers today!

Lightning assaults DeKalb, Illinois striking a communications tower for the city. The resulting damage knocked them off the air for hours until emergency repairs could be made. Photo courtesy Gilbert Sebenste/AllisonHouse

AllisonHouse customers,

On December 8, 2021, our lightning vendor (Earth Networks) upgraded their systems to improve their lightning detection, and strike sccuracy…to make it even better! It was already the best, now it’s even better. Here’s the official announcement:

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Dear Valued Earth Networks Customer,



Our global lightning detection network just got better.



Earth Networks is excited to announce the release of a significant upgrade to our global lightning detection network. Over the past two years, our expert lightning scientists and engineers have been hard at work revamping our lightning network to deliver even better results to our customers across the globe.



As a result, we now detect even more lightning and more accurately locate where that lightning occurs.



In addition, we have merged the Total Lightning Network (TLN) and the Global Lightning Network (GLN) together under a single name – Earth Networks Total Lightning Network®.



On December 8, 2021, all Earth Networks products that use or deliver lightning for real-time alerting and situational awareness (e.g., Sferic Maps, Sferic Siren, Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts, PulseRad, etc.) will automatically update to access the upgraded Earth Networks Total Lightning Network.



Some of the most exciting improvements include:

30-50% more lightning detected globally
Improved location accuracy to <100 meters (144% improvement)
Regional improvement in detection efficiency up to 95%
Improved cloud-to-ground and in-cloud lightning classification accuracy of 90%
Along with these improvements, our network continues to maintain extremely low false alarm rates and fast delivery of information so you can rely on our lightning data and alerts to keep people safe and maximize business continuity when severe weather threatens.

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We hope you enjoy the improvement, and thank you for continuing to place your trust in us as your best source for reliable weather data!

An update on Level 3 super-resolution radar imagery

WSR-88D Radar
The National Weather Service is going super-resolution with level 3 radar data. Here’s what that means for you.

I wanted to give you an update on my earlier article on super-resolution radar coming from the National Weather Service. Currently, we provide it to our customers by the exact same process that the National Weather Service will be providing it early next year. As you might recall, they had the ability do it, except for one issue: satellite bandwidth. That issue has now been resolved, and they will now have the ability to send out the data in a timely matter starting on February 22, 2022, in full…but they will be sending it out starting in groups to make sure the satellite feed can indeed handle it starting on February 2. I am not expecting any issues, though.

So, let’s go over some questions people may have about this change.

1. Will super-resolution level 3 radar data now be available to everyone, not just AllisonHouse subscribers? Yes. The National Weather Service will make the data publicly available on their websites as well.

2. Since #1 is true, why in the world would I need AllisonHouse for super-resolution radar data? That’s a great question, and the answer is, for multiple reasons:

A, The super-resolution data will be sent via satellite to their websites, as well as to us. We have several satellite dishes across the country to get the data. If ours goes down, or misses a piece of data, we automagically pluck it from another dish instantly. If any of you have ever had satellite TV or Internet, you know what happens when significant precipitation (rain, ice, snow) gets on the dish. With our setup, we have industry-leading quality reception that ensures we have ZERO data loss. That cannot be said for the NWS websites.

B. The data files are not huge, but they are 4 times larger than before. That means that the NWS servers will have a significant risk of getting bogged down. We use our own servers, preventing this issue from occurring.

C. Our amazing ingest software gets us the data in *milliseconds* after it is sent by the National Weather Service. That means there is no real delay of the data from us to you.

3. OK, but will this require a software upgrade? It depends. For GRLevel3, absolutely yes. But Mike Gibson is fully aware, and will have an update out to handle it. For others, it depends. One thing is for sure: don’t worry about it, but watch for any updates as we get to February 22 to avoid any data loss on your end.

4. So what is “super resolution” anyway, and how will it help me? It’s the highest version of resolution you can have that the radar puts out. This was only available to Level 2 data users, such as through RadarScope, and GRLevel2/GRAnalyst. The resolution is a quarter kilometer x 1/4 degree per pixel. Having said that, at distances beyond roughly 90 miles, you will notice little difference between super-resolution and standard resolution data as the beam width of the radar gets larger as you get farther from the radar. But obviously, if you are closer to the radar, you WILL notice a big improvement in resolution, and you’ll be able to see small features a lot better, such as “hook echoes” on supercell thunderstorms, outflow boundaries, sea breezes, and sometimes warm and cold fronts.

5. Do I need to upgrade my laptop/desktop to handle this? The answer is “it depends”. If you’re using a computer that is 8 years old and have a low-end video/graphics card, slow load times and animations could be a problem for you. For those of you who have decent speed on your laptops and desktops now (or faster), chances are you’ll be fine.

6. Do I need to upgrade your mobile phone to handle this? If you are using RadarScope and aren’t having problems, then no. Otherwise, any smartphone made in the last few years should be just fine.

7. Will my Windows-based software and super-resolution work on Windows 11? Yes.

8. Will there be a cost increase at AllisonHouse for this? No.

9. Will radar mosaics go “super resolution”? Not in the near future. Those are designed for you to see “the big picture”. Having said that, they ARE derived from Level 2 super-resolution data, so you can still see hook echoes on supercells, but not other features as described above, or at least not in super-resolution. Radar mosaics tend to filter out fronts, lake and sea breezes, outflow from thunderstorms, etc.

So, there it is in a nutshell. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have on this, to the extent that I can. And here’s a quick reminder: The old WSR-57 and WSR-74 radars in this country were super-resolution, had only one color, and couldn’t be transmitted to much of the public due to cost. If you wanted a paper copy via fax machine of it, a company charged $1 per image back in the 1970s. That’s $7 per image, adjusted for inflation, in 2021.
How far we have come!