When you subscribe to AllisonHouse, depending on the package you buy, you will get Level 3 radar data, or both Level 2 and Level 3 data. Some people may come to the conclusion that super resolution data is Level 2 data, and Level 3 is not. Let’s examine what each one is, and what it does.
First, yes, there is Level 1 data. Level 1 data is unprocessed, raw data. You may think “that’s what I really want!”. In reality, you don’t. The unfiltered, unprocessed data actually contains issues that are processed and fixed in level 2 and level 3 data. You would see a lot more noise, and a lot less signal, in this data. It would considerably harm more than good, for nearly all of our customers. It isn’t distributed to anyone outside of the National Weather Service.
Level 2 data has what has come to be called “super resolution”, or 250 meter resolution for velocity, and 1/4 km resolution for reflectivity. Close to the radar, the resolution is higher, but the data is averaged when the resolution is higher close to the radar. In any case there is some processing that occurs: some buildings and some false returns that are always there are filtered out or reduced in magnitude (reflectivity from wind farms cannot be eliminated, unfortunately, because real echoes would be filtered out as well). You get base reflectivity and velocity at all tilts, along with spectrum width, as the radar scans,
Level 3 data is more processed. First, because of bandwidth issues (more on this in a moment), the resolution of reflectivity data is reduced to 1 km, and 1/2 km for velocity data per pixel. You also only get the lowest 4 tilts of the storm. This is why you cannot generate a 3D view of the storm using level 3 data…you can only see 4 “slices” of any storm. But, you also get a lot of processed and derived products, such as:
1 hour, 3 hour and storm total precipitation estimate
Vertical integrated liquid
TVS signature, mesocyclones, hail indicators, storm relative velocity
And a lot more.
Because of all the derived products, and because each radar site only has so much bandwidth, they cannot send everything out at full resolution. So, a lot of these are sent at high resolution, but not at “super resolution”. Sending out the data has bandwidth concerns, as is limited capacity on the satellite feed they uplink the data to, known as NOAAport. That’s the feed the National Weather Service offices (and AllisonHouse) get the data from, in real time.
But, did you know that there are super-resolution base reflectivity and velocity products in level 3 format that are sent to the National Weather Service in Washington, DC? The issue is that you *can* get these products, for a nominal fee of about $120,000 a year. AllisonHouse has decided not to pay that fee and get those products because:
1. The super resolution data only goes out to 124 miles
2. It’s already available with Level 2 data, and that goes out to 248 miles
3. The latter is sent via fiber, not via satellite, and through cooperative agreements, we are able to provide you this data at a reasonable price.
But you might ask: I want my cake, and eat it too! What are the chances of us getting level 3 super-resolution base reflectivity radar and velocity data, even if only out to 124 miles?
Well, the answer to that is: maybe. A few years ago, the National Weather Service infrastructure, from the satellite feed, to their Web server farms, and internal routing couldn’t support it. Over the past few years, major upgrades to their web farm and a major speed increase to the satellite feed now make it worth discussing. And, in fact, they are discussing transmitting it to the public (and AllisonHouse!), and how to archive it as I speak. So, while it won’t happen tomorrow, there is a chance that it will be available in the future. And AllisonHouse will, of course, keep you updated if any additions are made to the National Weather Service data feeds.
But, here’s the good news: with AllisonHouse, you can have your cake, eat it too, and we’ll keep giving you as much cake as you can eat! By the cost of a family pizza per month, you get all the site radar data you need: Level 2 super-resolution AND level 3!. Just get our Storm Hunter subscription, and you’ll have the complete Level 2 and Level 3 feeds to your favorite software. And, you’ll have the most powerful information to make informed decisions right at your fingertips…all of this without chocolate, raspberry cream or banana cake all over your fingers. Bon Apetit!