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Pinpoint Weather Center Update

By: Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne Email
By: Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne Email

My apologies for not posting as frequently as usual lately. I've been busier than usual with administrative items. Those include enhancements to our local WRF model, improvements to our graphics for the video weather blog (which we hope you enjoy), and preparing for a major system upgrade next week.

There will be new things in this upgrade that should improve our work flow in the Pinpoint Weather Center, but you will also see new things get to the web. We've received several requests for specific maps to be added to our web site. The maps we currently have are pushed to our server via a c-shell script. Since yours truly is the only person in the weather department who has experience reading and writing scripts, it's difficult to add a whole bunch of maps all at once. I've also been waiting on an upgrade from our vendor (which was originally supposed to be released this past spring). Luckily, we are one of the first stations on the list to receive the upgrade and I will be doing that on Thursday evening, November 15. There is a program in this update called PRISM. PRISM allows us to very easily send weather graphics that we make straight from our Dell Workstations in the Pinpoint Weather Center directly to our web site server. With the program, we can also create animations in many different formats (jpg, gif, QuickTime, etc). The images can also be formatted so you can view weather imagery from your blackberry, iPhone, or other PDA/cell phone device. Most importantly, I have held on to every e-mail with requests for new maps. I have not forgotten you! So, if you sent me one, hang tight and I'll be making these additions within the next several weeks.

The upgrade also includes our vendor's version of their high resolution model (called the RPM, "Rapid Precision Mesoscale" model). The vendor presently sends us the 12 km version of the RPM via our dedicated T1 connection. It has performed pretty well, especially with tropical cyclones. Now, we are going to receive their 4 km RPM. That means the model has a grid point every 4 km (2.5 miles) and at that resolution, the model can start to resolve very small atmospheric circulations. These include seabreeze circulations, the structure of convective cells, outflow boundaries, cold pools, and much more! We will still have access to the 12 km version (grid points every 7.5 miles) and that will help us with larger-scale features. Additionally, we run our very own 12 and 4 km WRF model in conjunction with our sister station, WJHG-TV, in Panama City. Their chief meteorologist (Jason Kelley) and myself personally configured the physics of that model. We are working with our vendor so that our model (in GRIB file format) can be displayed in our weather graphics system. WLNS-TV in Lansing, Michigan and WCTV/WJHG are the only stations in the country running our own model personally configured by station meteorologists. While we know the science of meteorology isn't perfect, I do want everyone to know we are using some of the most cutting-edge tools available to any TV station in the country!

While I am on the subject on meteorological technology, I also just upgraded our MegaWatt Doppler Radar software (it's called FasTrac). That program is disseminated by another vendor. They've added some nice new tools that will help us with severe weather and radar analysis during thunderstorm season.

If you have requests for web graphics, feel free to send those along to me.


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