New university radar coming to AllisonHouse

A doppler radar sits scanning the skies with a developing thunderstorm nearby. Image courtesy; SPC

If you are a radar junkie like me, you know there are areas of the country that need a radar to fill in for poor coverage. Northeastern Missouri and western Illinois, southeastern Oklahoma, amongst others.

However, in November, Purdue University professor Robin Tanamachi announced that Purdue’s main campus in West Lafayette, IN, was going to get their own doppler radar. Their intent is to make all of its data available to outside entities, including AllisonHouse. It will also be made available to the National Weather Service, all in as real time as possible.

The history of University radars is that they provide few if any derived products, so they just give us Level 2 radar data from them. Although I cannot confirm it, I suspect these data will be in Level 2 format only. GRLevel3 users would be out of luck, but GRAnalyst and RadarScope users, for example, would be able to get the data. In many cases, the data may extend out only 60 miles for most products.

That having been said, this fills an important low level gap in the 88D radar network, as this area, westward into east-central Illinois, is between KILX (Lincoln, IL), KIND (Indianapolis) and KLOT (Romeoville/Chicago, IL). Thus, weak tornadoes and mesocyclones frequently go undetected in these parts of the two state area. This will no doubt improve tornado warning accuracy in the area once it is online.

Although there is no hard date for this to happen, Purdue hopes to have the data available sometime in the spring of 2018.

AllisonHouse takes you forward, and took me back

AllisonHouse prides itself on bringing you top quality weather information at a price you can afford. We are truly state of the art here: when GOES-16 data became available, we were one of the early ones who had it for our subscribers. We are a forward looking weather services company!

Until, that is, I get taken back. Way back.

You see: tonight, as one of my duties, I added a new Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) site, which just started producing METARs (raw weather observations): KC65, Plymouth, Indiana. OK, few of our subscribers might care. But when I added it and verified that I had it in the right location, I saw the city. I remembered the times I went on vacation as a kid with my parents about 15 miles east of there at a place called Hoffman Lake. The old Purina dog food processing plant on the east side of the city on US Route 30 (now owned by someone else), and of course, the truck stop just east of the US 30/31 intersection where I played Pac-Man and pinball when we stopped there for lunch and a bathroom break before heading to the campground, with their massive American flag flying out front (the place is no longer a mom and pop shop, the restaurant became a Subway, but maybe some video games are still there in the main building, still intact!)…it all flooded back. Fun weekends, two weeks of camping in a trailer with swimming, bingo nights, jukeboxes, pinball machines, Space Invaders, and a canteen. And of course, I had to fly using Google Maps to see what had changed. A lot had, but a lot still remains the same!

30 years later after I last drove by it, the airport finally got their AWOS online. You spotters and storm chasers out there will enjoy that, no doubt. But for a little while tonight, for me, it was 1980. And I got taken back where there were no cell phone towers, payphones everywhere, and music from the AM and FM radio stations in the area: no Spotify, smart phones or YouTube.

So, my fellow readers, have you ever looked at AllisonHouse Maps, GRx products, RadarScope, PYKL3, and ever zoom in and get “taken back”?
Here, let me give you some music to go with this, and then send in your responses. I’d enjoy seeing them!

Hurricane Harvey: this is very serious

Good evening everyone,

As I type this, hurricane and tropical storm warnings are now in effect for much of the Texas Gulf coast, as hurricane Harvey continues to intensify in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. This hurricane is expected to make landfall…and, perhaps, multiple landfalls…along the Texas Gulf coast.

At this point, there is uncertainty over how intense the hurricane will become in terms of wind speed. As I type this Thursday, the National Hurricane Center is expecting this to intensify to a category 3 hurricane,, with winds of 111-129 mph (or 96-112 knots, or 178-208 km/hr). However, and this is the key: the steering winds aloft will go pretty much calm once it approaches land, and will stay that way for at least two days. That means that this system should stall over the coastal areas, and bring catastrophic rainfall amounts of 10″ to as much as 35″ of rain from Houston to Corpus Christi, and areas 100+ miles inland from there. The flooding that is all but certain at this point may exceed anything some areas have ever seen in modern times…and this is NOT hyperbole, in any way, Current rainfall projections for Houston are somewhere around 20″. The storm surge may be over 10′ high, and could be even higher if this occurs near or at high tide. Roadways, homes and businesses near the coastline would be completely inundated in the impact area.

AllisonHouse is part of the U.S. weather enterprise, whereby we cooperate with the National Weather Service and its related entities (NHC, SPC, WPC, etc), and also our private partners as well. Tonight, our competition, the United States National Weather Service, NOAA, FEMA and related agencies have a unified message we beg you to hear and understand: if you are in the hurricane warning, your life is in danger once the hurricane moves in. Execute your evacuation plan now, as per local authorities. If you are in a mandatory evacuation area and you don’t leave, given the intensity of the system and the extreme rainfall expected, you are putting yourself and anyone with you in grave danger. And we want to see you alive! If you need help, call your friends, family, and if you have none or are unable to physically evacuate, please call for help from local authorities or private entities. They LOVE to serve you, and you are NOT a burden to them.

For those who think “This won’t happen to me, because…” No. If you lit a match next to an open container of gasoline, but it still doesn’t explode or catch on fire, could you really consider yourself to have been safe? You just got really fortunate. Do you want to stay in an evacuation zone where all you have to rely on is phantom luck? And for many in this event, it will be the first time they experience a storm surge or a catastrophic flood in modern history. It’s not because the winds are so strong with this hurricane…it’s because it will be moving as fast as person walking briskly, once it gets to the coastline. In other words: think of someone dumping buckets of water on you for two days…non-stop.

So, again, if you are in a hurricane warning, evacuate. If the authorities tell you to evacuate, do so. They don’t like telling you that, believe me. They’d rather be at home with their family and friends; instead, they are trying to save your life, and those you care for. The storm surge and catastrophic flooding are the two main threats with this system; dare I say the latter may be considerably worse than the already bad former.

Thank you,

Gilbert and the AllisonHouse team