No hibernation for AllisonHouse: A quick look at what we’re up to

Radar image showing a flash flood warning from Gibson Ridge

Thanks to upgrades on our end, and improvements on the National Weather Service side, data is flowing to AllisonHouse customers faster than ever! Super-res data and imagery from GRlevel3 courtesy Mike Gibson and AllisonHouse.

With the onset of winter, we kept very busy with Super-Resolution level 3 data coming to your favorite radar apps like Radarscope and GRLevel3. But what else have we been up to? Let’s take a quick look and let you know what has happened.

First, in December, we switched to all-new servers, on a new high-speed network. The servers that we were on before, as well as the network, was fast, and we never had any issues with it. But data sizes keep increasing, more customers come on board, and we have to be ready to handle whatever comes our way with both. So, just before Christmas, we switched to entirely brand new servers on a brand new, state of the art, high-speed network. We have no reasonable capacity limitations: if we suddenly got a million subscribers (hey, I’d love that!), you wouldn’t notice a thing. We have the power to instantly scale up not only to meet new customer demands, but also ones from our current customers. The only times you’ll see anything go down is if the National Weather Service or one of our private vendors goes down for maintenance and upgrades, and due to rendundancy, those outages are rare. Any outages on our end should be very few and far between now, except for maintenance windows where we give notice to our customers when those will happen.

Furthermore, it would be negligent of me to not tell you what the National Weather Service has been doing on their end in terms of upgrades. When GOES-16/17 came online, the NWS upgraded their systems to handle the firehose of data. As it turns out, some of the networking and the servers were underpowered, causing delays and outages of data. Over the last two years, the NWS has gotten a handle on the situation, and has the capacity to handle all of it now. This spring, further upgrades will occur to resolves some very brief and intermittent issues. In January, the NWS got a big boost in network and Internet connection bandwidth, allowing for more robust data throughput to us and other companies. All of that to say, this spring, we expect few data delays and outages versus last year from the NWS. Not that there were many for them in 2019, but any that occur should be minimal. We have already seen the improvements this winter, where only a few minor, very brief delays have been experienced that only we at AllisonHouse noticed. The delays were short enough that customers didn’t even notice. Even these rare brief outages should diminish as the year goes on as the upgrades continue.

All of this to say: There is no way AllisonHouse, will ever claim we have 100% uptime, always, and forever. But in 2019, we had over 99.99% uptime with our products and services. While our goal is perfection, in reality we just do our absolute best to get as close to it as we can when it comes to uptime. And like the Six Million Dollar Man, this year we are stronger and faster than ever before. To get the products to you, we now usually measure the delays in milliseconds, not seconds or minutes. We cannot break the space-time continuum (we tried it once, but William Shatner slapped our wrists HARD!), but we can and we do deliver the highest quality data we can, affordably, as fast as we possibly can. In 2019, we implemented a data ingest solution that allows us to pluck from data feeds that always, on the fly, pick the server that can get it to us the fastest, and then it does it. From radar, satellite, surface and upper air data, models and more, we give you the data as soon as we get it, and through satellite and fiber, we get it to you fast!

Finally, one more note. I handle the data coming in to AllisonHouse. If at all possible, every feed is redundant as possible. For example, the watches and warnings and level 3 radar data are received via satellite by 4 different satellite dishes, including ours in Oklahoma. If any go down, the other 3 are feeding data and the dish or server with issues is automagically blocked until service can be restored. We also feed Level 2 data redundantly, which avoided serious data lags last spring and summer that others experienced, as our ingest software automagically picks the fastest vendor to retrieve data from.

So, that’s what we have been up to in prepping for another year of severe. And it could be at or above average for at least the amount of tornadoes:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/02/16/experts-predict-near-above-average-tornado-activity-this-spring/

So, be ready! We are. Are you? Get an AllisonHouse subscription now, and get the data you trust and the weather display you want…fast, reliably, and redundantly!

Last minute shopping? Give a gift of AllisonHouse!

Do you have a weather enthusiast who wants to see the storms in as close to real time as possible? Are you a business that is weather-sensitive, and needs to know if even a light shower is heading your way? Are you a municipality, county, or fire/police/911/ that needs to know when severe weather is about to strike….

Can I give an admittedly biased opinion, and ask you to try AllisonHouse? I’ll give you some great reasons why.

Numerous cities rely on us for current radar, and plotting watches and warnings as soon as they are received by the National Weather Service. We receive the National Weather Service NOAAport feed via satellite dish, as does every National Weather Service office in the country, without any delay. From our dish, it literally takes milliseconds to fiber it to our servers, and then your software grabs it and plots it. But many of our feeds come via fiber now. Our Level 2 radar feeds are too big to be sent across satellite in a cost-effective matter, so we get them via fiber. As well as all of our airport observations (raw and decoded), some of our models, satellite images on AllisonHouse Maps and GRx products, our super-resolution Level 3 radar data, mesonet, lightning, and more!

Furthermore, in early December 2019, we went to an all new higher capacity and faster network with all new servers. This made our already fast network and reliable systems even more so. It allows us to scale up automatically. If we get a large number of new customers, or existing customers using our services heavily, we literally spin up new servers on the fly to handle the load. Most of the time, our capacity can handle it without doing this. But on days when all heck breaks loose around the country, we literally sit and watch as new servers are spun up instantaneously to handle all of your needs automagically. Scaling up to handle big events is another reason why we are reliable! And, our solid-state drives (SSD’s) are more reliable than mechanical hard drives, and MUCH faster!

If our satellite dish in Oklahoma goes down, we have backup ones that allow us to feed data from them in Louisiana, Colorado, and Illinois. If the NOAAport satellite feed goes dead, we also have access to the NOAA Weather Wire Service (NWWS) and enterprise-EMWIN (Emergency Manager’s Weather Information Network) as backups to keep the data flowing if those feeds are still up.

Don’t get me wrong: we still go down for maintenance windows, but we will give you time to prepare, unless it is an emergency. Furthermore, we are always looking to improve what we do in terms of communication and reliability, as well as new data feeds that benefit our customers.

If you are on a tight budget, consider our Storm Chaser package. Soup up your GRLevel3 and Radarscope with super-resolution radar with full data, not truncated! And you get lightning, mesonet data, placefiles and much more. See what you need, what your budget offers, and check this out:

https://www.allisonhouse.com/pages/pricing

And give yourself, or a family or friend…the gift of weather awareness, and awesomeness.

Any questions? Send us an email at support (atsymbol) allisonhouse.com. We’re standing by ready to help you in any way we can with your weather awareness and toolbox needs!

Spanning the region from the Phillipines to western Africa, our GOES-West and GOES-east feeds have you covered with satellite images every 30 seconds to 10 minutes!

SPC day 2 outlooks will soon have probabilistic hazard outlooks!

SPC day 1 outlook probability of hail, soon to be available for day 2 outlooks

Starting on January 28, 2020, SPC tornado, hail and wind probability maps and products will become available for the SPC Day 2 Convective Outlook. SPC has been testing these products internally, and the quality of the accuracy has been deemed acceptable or official and public/private use. (Image courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center)

Starting on January 28, 2020, individual severe convective threats will be added to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC)’s day 2 convective outlook. Currently, the day 2 includes a total risk percentage. But advances in data, models, and forecaster experience has allowed SPC to advance the risk forecast product further, to be broken up into their individual hazards. SPC has been testing these products internally for some time, and the accuracy/quality of these products has been acceptable for release to the public. The National Weather Service explains:

“Research to operations and improvements in numerical forecast guidance, particularly with certain convection-allowing weather forecast models, are providing necessary confidence in the forecasting of these individual hazards into the Day 2 time frame. These improvements have allowed SPC to issue forecasts of individual hazard probabilities for tornadoes, damaging wind, and hail potential along with a separate probability for significant severe, if forecast, for each hazard type. These individual hazard probabilistic forecasts will replace the current “total severe” probabilistic forecast, fully mirroring the types of output from the Day 1 Convective Outlook, in terms of the Categorical risk forecast and the three individual probabilistic hazard forecasts.”

The high-resolution NAM model has shown some eye-opening skill over the past few years. In fact, this year, it has done remarkably well out to 36 hours, and advances in the HRRR model will continue to improve confidence as well.

These new products will mirror their day 1 counterparts exactly in terms of percentage probabilities, and associated graphics. This means that weather enthusiasts, emergency managers and those responsible for the safety of venues will see another excellent tool in the toolbox for determining the status and safety of events in the day 2 (tomorrow) timeframe.

Of course, AllisonHouse will carry these products after they become available, and we are excited to see this tremendous advance in science and technology!