The National Weather Service wants to seriously throttle data usage on their websites

This slide from a National Weather Service conference call in early December of 2020 was the shot across the bow to National Weather Service website users, the private sector, app users, the media, and more. 25% of users could be left in the cold, including those seeking model guidance, and app users relying on National Weather Service websites as they run out of bandwidth. (Graphic courtesy National Weather Service)

Back in November of 2020, the National Weather Service (NWS) sent out a stunning administrative message on its primary data feed: it was running out of bandwidth, and would have to start throttling usage of all NWS and NWS-related *websites* for heavy users, or else they could all become unreliable. They set a conference call about it on December 6, and it was a wild one. The gist of it can be found here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/12/09/nws-data-limits-internet-bandwidth/?fbclid=IwAR0GZZWPlChwE8WOtxbNIM5xxLfQN7b8vMxSnp2llO11ITahRGUw2z5mjik

Starting in the first quarter of 2021, they would start throttling heavy users. This meant, in the words of the National Weather Service, that 25% (1/4, ie, one quarter) of its users would be left out in the cold.

This would target two groups of people: app users and developers, and those downloading a lot of model guidance (HRRR, NAM, GFS, etc). Some fit into both of those categories. And it would target the private sector, who uses a lot of that data to help others make life-saving decisions (including AllisonHouse). Needless to say, this was met with a lot of concern, and scorn.

I won’t get into the politics of it, but as an AllisonHouse subscriber, you deserve to know if your data will be missing, or delayed. The rest of this article is to transparently tell you how we won’t be affected.

1. We receive the primary National Weather Service data feed via a satellite dish in Oklahoma City. On that feed come surface and upper air data, GOES (and other) satellite imagery, level 3 radar, a considerable number of MRMS products (all of the heavily used ones), some high-resolution model data. This includes all watches/warnings/advisories from the National Weather Service. Thus, this data will be unaffected by any website issues.

2. We receive Level 2 (and derive from it super-res level 3) radar data, FAA METARs/surface data, MRMS radar, MADIS, mesonets, earthquake, fire, MPING and Spotter Network data via fiber that does not go through any of their websites. Thus, this data will be unaffected.

3. Models. That’s really the only concern. Or is it? I asked our CTO, Ryan Hickman, about it….and completely understanding the issue, he simply said “There’s nothing to be concerned about”. We have the tech, the tools, the data, great people, and the data channels to avoid any outages or delays from National Weather Service data throttling on websites. We simply bypass them.

So, current customer, you have no worries; we have you taken care of. If you are an app developer, and are worried you’ll be left with a blank radar display, or without reliable or timely watches and warnings, talk to us. We provide or make available extremely reliable radar data and warnings to popular apps like RadarScope, GRlevel3, RadarOmega, and more! And if you are concerned, Emergency Manager, or storm enthusiast, that your data will be delayed or missing when it really matters, talk to us. We don’t have server limitations or bandwidth issues! Head to our support pages and send us an email. We love to hear from current and also potential customers!

Until next time, stay 6′ apart from those outside your home, electrified fences, and those who put ketchup on hot dogs in Chicago. And have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and whatever holiday you celebrate!

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