Happy New Year! A look at what’s to come in 2018

Hello AllisonHouse users,

As 2017 heads into the distance in our rear view mirrors, we thank you for another good year for our company. We’re already rolling out new features on AllisonHouse Maps, and we want to give you a heads up to a few things we can tell you about what is coming in 2018!

– Maps: AllisonHouse Last year, Maps had many MRMS radar products added. Of course, when GOES-16 became available with experimental data, here’s a little known fact: our programmer Ryan Hickman wanted to be the first…or at least, one of the first, to have stunning GOES-16 images available to our customers. Guess what: he worked nearly 24 hours in a row to make that happen! Furthermore, we switched away from the National Weather Service NOAAport feed, and now use the GOES Rebroadcast (GRB) feed for the data. Why? The latter has the raw data, which is a lot better than what is available on NOAAport, in terms of the number of products and resolution. In short, you get the best quality image from this feed! We are awaiting to add the GOES-16 lightning data, but we know that the bugs are still being worked out with it. Until that feed is stable, we’re holding off adding it…for now. So, stay tuned…the National Weather Service is working hard to get it working well. Remember, this is state-of-the-art technology, and until that thing got launched into space, we knew there would be some issues. Thankfully, they can upload firmware to the satellite to fix things that have cropped up. But in general, GOES-16 has been giving us jaw-dropping performance and imagery!

Also, look for even more products to be added to Maps in the year to come! We’ll let you know when they are added.

– Level 2 and Level 3 data. Purdue University has indicated that in the next several months, they will have their dual-pole data online…and we are working to ensure we will have the live feed!

Plus more! Sometimes data just falls into our lap, or it becomes available to the public with little or no fanfare. When we see it would be valuable for our users, we add it!

We hope you have a wonderful new year, and we hope you’ll also tell a friend about us. We want to be the weather data provider you can trust! Our uptime has been greater than 99.99%, and that includes maintenance windows. Reliability and a wide variety of products will continue to serve you well and keep you informed in the new year. See you in 2018!

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!