AllisonHouse dishes up repairs, and data from space!

AllisonHouse engineer Kevin Pirkle after repairing our dish. As you can see, it looks great! (Courtesy photo)

Some time ago, our dish got hit by lightning, and it was time for repairs. While we have been on a backup dish since that time, we needed to get our main dish back on the air. The backups are intended for that: backups. But after years of use, it was also time for an equipment refresh on our primary and main backup dish after being out in the elements for over a decade.

We replaced the cables, taped them up and had waterproof connectors put on. We peaked the dish for the best quality signal possible, and replaced the ground system as well, which saved us from getting lightning damage to our receiver and server. Just as importantly, our antenna LNB, which picks up the signal, got an upgrade as well. It uses the highest broadcast industry standards that broadcasters use for transmitting and receiving signals! It’s a real workhorse, and will hopefully serve us for a long time to come. This is important because we had been noticing more and more 5G signal interference creeping in, which has reduced our signal to noise ratio some (but still well above acceptable levels). This LNB filters out much of the unwanted 5G, and high-powered TV and FM signals that are getting stronger as new towers and upgraded transmitting sites are built nearby.

Up next: our “primary” backup dish. about 30′ from our main dish, will get the same refresh. This will ensure your data will be flawless for watches, warnings, and standard resolution Level 3 data.

And thanks to our new team member, Kevin, for doing the repairs! Lighning damage is no fun, but our goal is uptime, all of the time (except for brief maintenance), and with our system, we pretty much are there. It’s our commitment to you: very high reliable data and imagery without sacrificing quality, all the while keeping costs affordable to our users. And thanks to all of the engineers who keep everything working well every day!

July radar update

Level 2 TDWR data is expanding, and 6 replacement doppler radars will be installed in Canada this year.

Hello AllisonHouse users,

The rollout of Level 2 TDWR data, and the doppler radar replacement in Canada continues. Here’s an update on both:

1. The upgrades for bandwidth to handle level 2 TDWR radar data continues. At this time, sites are being upgraded as soon as they are able. Originally, TDWR TICH (Wichita), TOKC (Oklahoma City, and the two TDWR’s in Dallas/Forth Worth were the only sites to get Level 2 TDWR data. Now, a number of sites have it; check yours to see if your local area has them. St. Louis, New York and Chicago area TDWRs do not have super-res yet, but Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Washington DC, Boston, Pittsburgh and others now do. Be patient, they should all be online this winter!

2. The radar replacement in Canada continues. The United States replaced all our old radars of varying ages and genres, and added many more (more than double!) in the early and middle 1990s. Canada is now doing the same. 6 more old radars will be replaced by the end of 2020; they are being installed next to the old ones, or close by. When the installation is occurring, the old radar must be shut down so as not to harm the workers. Canada will replace all of the existing ones by summer 2023, while adding one radar in southern Alberta. The 6 being replaced this year include:

1. Shuler, Alberta
2. Dryden, Ontario
3. Holyrood, Newfoundland
4. Sainte-Francoise (Villeroy), Quebec
5. Woodlands, Manitoba
6. Val d’Irene, Quebec

There will be a training radar in Egbert, ON, coming online as well.

I must make one more note, however, of the TDWR data. The National Weather Service already sends out the data in super-resolution from the TDWRs in Level 3 format. This upgrade allows the full range of products in super-resolution on software that only displays Level 2 radar data, such as GRAnalyst.

Enjoy the upgrades, and I hope you are having a reasonably good summer, in spite of the pandemic!

Edit: Update: TMDW and TORD came online with level 2 data after a software update on July 29, 2020. Enjoy, Chicago area subscribers!

National Weather Service planned data outage on May 5, 2020: What you need to know

We have been informed by the National Weather Service that they need to do a major network infrastructure upgrade on May 5, 2020. This will knock out several weather data sources for 2-3 hours. Here are the details, and what we at AllisonHouse are doing to mitigate it.

WHAT’S GOING ON?

The National Weather Service will be doing a major network upgrade in their internal data relay and acquisition system from 12Z-14:30Z (7 AM CT to 9:30 AM CT) on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. This will be done to eliminate congestion during peak periods, thus reducing or eliminating data delays and improving reliability. This will knock out several data feed types from NOAAport, the primary data feed that the National Weather Service sends to all National Weather Service offices and major weather data vendors (including us).

WHAT FEED TYPES WILL BE DOWN FROM NOAAPORT?

The outage will result in the loss of the following data:

Most text-based products (including ALL weather watches, advisories and warnings)

ALL Level 3 standard resolution radar data (including all base reflectivity/velocity products, correlation coefficient, and KDP), as well as derived products such as VIL, 1 and 3 hour and storm total precipitation. In short, ALL level 3 radar products will be down.

MRMS radar mosaics

METARs (airport weather observations)

MADIS (5 minute METARs and mesonet data)

ALL models run during that time (NAM, HRRR, etc)

Buoy data

WHAT WE WILL DO TO MITIGATE THIS AS MUCH AS WE CAN

Here is what Allisonhouse is doing to mitigate this outage as much as possible. First, we have access to a backup data feed that will transmit some of the missing products, with caveats, and we also generate some of our own products, which will also mitigate much of the data loss during this maintenance window. Here is a summary of what will happen with each of these feeds for our customers:

Level 3 radar products: AllisonHouse customers will notice NO outages or interruptions from products that we make that are super-resolution. This includes base reflectivity, base velocity, KDP, and CC. This applies to tilts 1-3. We cannot make super-resolution products for higher tilts, so tilts 4 and higher will not update (use GRAnalyst for that; Level 2 data is completely unaffected by this outage). If you use GRLevel3, Storm Relative Velocity tilts 1-3 will also still work as intended. RadarScope and RadarOmega customers will only see outages on the highest tilts as described above, and derived products, such as Storm Total Precipitation.

NWS watches, advisories and warnings: we should get them through our backup data feed; however, they will be delayed anywhere from 5 seconds to 2 minutes.

METARs: They will be sent on our backup feed with a 5 second to 2 minute delay. However, those partners that use our direct-from-FAA METARs will see NO delay (this includes GRAnalyst/GRLevel3 METAR placefiles).  All other software will experience the delay described above (including GREarth, and AWIPS-2).

MRMS radar: We get these via fiber, EXCEPT for the AWIPS-2 server, which unfortunately *requires* them to go through the NOAAport satellite feed. AllisonHouse Maps and GREarth customers will be unaffected.

MADIS: We get these via fiber, therefore, MADIS should remain operational with no delays.

Buoy data: Unfortunately, buoy data is not on either of the two backup feeds we have available to us. That data will be lost.

Models: We’re just going to have to wait until the feed comes back up. Plan on a major delay in model information with the 12Z NAM, and 12Z-14Z HRRR, at a minimum.

COMPLICATIONS:

We don’t exactly know when the feeds will come back up. As a precaution, we are keeping the feed on for 3 hours. If the NWS manages to get the feed back up in 2 hours in a best-case scenario, some production duplication (most notably, warnings on RadarScope, GREarth GRAnalyst, GRLevel3 and AllisonHouse Maps) may occur. We ask for your forgiveness as we would rather have that, than miss a very important bulletin. It is important to note that not all feeds may come back at once, and they may be quite unstable for a while after as the system slogs through the backlog of data to be sent,

If the outage unexpectedly goes on longer than that, we can make the backup feed stay on as long as we want. That will have to be manually done, but we will closely monitor the feed Tuesday morning to see if an extension of the backup is warranted. If you do not see the data type listed above (such as Level 2 radar and satellite imagery), you can be assured those feeds will be unaffected.

If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to drop us an email on our support page. Thank you for your patience, and know we have done our best to minimize the impacts of this outage to you!