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Weather Service Becoming More Tech Friendly 182

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the i-hope-your-servers-are-weatherproofed dept.
awgy writes "The National Weather Service recently began offering XML/RSS feeds of their alerts, observations, and forecasts. Now the Tulsa, OK Forecast Office is experimenting with offering forecast files for Google Earth. It looks like the National Weather Service is quickly becoming one of the most geek-friendly government agencies."
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Weather Service Becoming More Tech Friendly

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  • I love the FireFox weather-thing, but I've heard that AccuWeather isn't all that Accu. Besides, don't they just get their data from the gov't and process it?

  • Impressive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by confusion (14388) on Friday August 19, 2005 @08:39AM (#13354280) Homepage
    I look forward to the creative uses that are sure to come from this...

    Now, if they could just offer real time radar feeds, I'd be happy.

    Jerry
    • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by whovian (107062) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:22AM (#13354472)
      Now, if they could just offer real time radar feeds, I'd be happy.

      Well, depending on where you look for the radar images, getting FREE updates every 5 minutes is pretty damn good. It works well for this armchair weather enthusiast. One alternative might be to pay $7/month for "real time" radar imagery with various enhancements.

      I suppose the updates are only at every five minutes because in times of heavy weather, the forecasters need different types of data. The radar sweeps are done using 2 to 4 angles of elevation depending if they want to measure precipitation or storm relative velocities, for example.
      • Re:Impressive (Score:5, Informative)

        by DarthBart (640519) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:42AM (#13354623)
        The best you could possibly get, unless you plugged directly into the radar site is every 6 minutes. The radar sites only transmit new product images every 6 minutes when they're in rain mode, and only every 10 minutes when they're in clear-sky mode.

        If you want as-up-to-date as possible, you need to get the NOAAPORT feed directly from satellite. If you've got access to an old 10-12 foot TVRO satellite dish, you can get either a DVB data receiver or a DVB card and the appropriate software from noaaport.net.

        • Are there any sites around for amateur weather forecasters that describe this sort of stuff?

          On a much more basic level, I always have a hard time finding my way around the nws site (although it has gotten a lot better). Where can I find good information about the different statistical models, how the differ, what resolution grid they work on etc?

          Mainly I am interested in obtaining the highest resolution GRIB file for wind forecasts in a specific are. Thoughts?
        • Re:Impressive (Score:3, Interesting)

          I work at a science museum with such a feed. We have a pair of Sparc stations that suck down weather products in real time. Back before Sept 11, we also used to get commercial aircraft position data. That made for a really cool looking map.
      • Re:Impressive (Score:3, Informative)

        The WSR-88D is actually able to discern 15 different elevation angles in it's scanning strategies. However, these change depending on whether or not the radar is in Clear Air or Precipitation mode, where Clear Air mode is more sensitive that Precipitation mode. This site contains a bunch of information about the WSR-88D radar. WSR-88D Radar Information (weather.cod.edu) [cod.edu] Unlike the radar displays from tv stations that you see, the NWS radars do not allow even the meteorologists to see a "live update" ins
    • I hate to Slashdot them, but there are some really good collections of radar and other products here [cod.edu] and here [ucar.edu]
  • by bherman (531936) on Friday August 19, 2005 @08:42AM (#13354297) Homepage
    Don't forget everyone, this is the same weather service our friends at Accuweather and like minded companys are trying to get to stop their innovation.

    I pay for them to gather the weather, why should I have to pay accuweather to give it to me in a more readable format.
    I'll let the guys/girls that gathered it in the first place make it purdy!
    • I pay for them to gather the weather, why should I have to pay accuweather to give it to me in a more readable format.

      None of should have to pay accuweather for data that we've already paid for. This bill [loc.gov] in the US Senate is still pending. Given that the NWS is still going forward with making this data available, I don't think that the folks at the NWS support the bill.

      • Given that the NWS is still going forward with making this data available, I don't think that the folks at the NWS support the bill.

        It's promising, though, that only one Senator (Rick Santorum) was willing to sponsor the bill, and it's now been sitting dormant in committee for four months. Perhaps the Senate has better things to do than pass laws that ensure that a government agency cannot offer its services to the public.
    • by acomj (20611) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:07AM (#13354406) Homepage
      The parent alludes to it, but basically private weather companies (many in PA) are trying to shut off government competetion. Because weather.gov [weather.gov] is so good and ad free, people prefer to use it. The privates have reacted by making there sites cleaner, but its still not as good. To stop government form releasing weather data the companies are pushing a bill in the senate sponsored by rep santorum (google news search for accuweather and santorum [google.com]
      one story:
      this is one of many stories about this. [greeleytrib.com]

      Basically because our tax dollars pay for the weather service we should be able to get this information. Interesting to note the in the UK the BBC is running into similar problems (its government sponsored as well)
      • Agreed. This is covered by FOIA and any law that would restrict this would contradict FOIA rules. I may be wrong, but I think even Top Secret military information is eventually released to the public when it's no longer a risk to our security or our troops which could be 10 years....20 years...40 years or forever...like atomic bomb designs that are 40-50 years old are likely still Top Secret.

        Weather information is too important to have to pay for it. Accuweather before the internet was the only way TV st
      • by moviepig.com (745183) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:37AM (#13354587) Homepage
        To stop government form releasing weather data the companies are pushing a bill in the senate sponsored by rep Santorum...

        ...because the data could be misused by those who don't understand it. Likewise, a ban's proposed to stop US consumers from importing Canadian weather-data, which might be improperly manufactured or labeled...

        • "...because the data could be misused by those who don't understand it."

          lol...have you ever been to weather.gov? Because if someone has a problem with entering in their zip and seeing temperature and precip predictions then they sure as fuck aren't gonna understand AccuWeather (wich is the EXACT SAME THING). Seriously, an idiot can understand it.

          As for Canadian weather data...I would guess that they suck at predicting weather just like we do. What fucking difference does it make to someone in the U.S.?
        • For starters, it'll be in metric, as well as in english and French, automatically putting on a 24 wait period for suspicious data.

          Although college kids in bordering States will likely be found importing it anyway, as it'll show whether the roads are clear for some under-21 drinking during the winter.
      • by bad-badtz-maru (119524) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:40AM (#13354614) Homepage
        It's even more than just private individuals now using the NWS data. My employer was paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for Accuweather forecast data that they FTPd to us daily. When the NWS started offering downloads of their GRIB US forecast files, we cancelled the Accuweather service and started using the GRIBs.

        The funny thing is that it wasn't really a financially driven decision for us. We wanted the forecast information for every zipcode whereas Accuweather forced us to request the addition of new forecast zipcodes one by one from their sales rep. The sales rep would then insist on finding out what new customer of ours was using the data, and the sales rep would then contact +our+ customer to try to sell them additional weather services. We are not in the weather service business and it was very, very annoying.

      • Same here in Canada (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lord Satri (609291) <alexandreleroux@@@gmail...com> on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:57AM (#13354730) Homepage Journal
        Because weather.gov is so good and ad free, people prefer to use it.

        Same here in Canada. The govermental weather site is the most visited website of Canada (about 18 millions hits per day IIRC). http://weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/ [ec.gc.ca]

        For-profit organizations try to offer value-added products, but it's crippled with ads. And what many clients do not know, they (example http://meteomedia.com/ [meteomedia.com]) basicly simply repackage and reinterpret the data the government sells them (I work for the Canadian Meteorological Centre :-).
      • Just don't go to the first Google link for Senator Santorum [spreadingsantorum.com]! :)
    • The funny thing is that I'd never heard of NOAA's website until the Santorum bill. It's mercifully ad-free and complete, and now it's the only place I go. And it's pronounced "Noah", how cool is that?

      The radar pictures are a little less pretty but it certainly beats not being able to find the damned weather forecast on weather.com.
    • Here is the link to the actual bill: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:s786: [loc.gov] . The gist is that Sen. Santorum wants to prevent the NWS from distributing data which could be provided by a commercial service.

      The bill also calls out prohibitions on persons making use of weather data which may efffect a market before an official warning or notice is issued by the NWS. Great - just what we need - all weather warnings will now need to be reviewed by government counsel before issue.
  • by HMA2000 (728266) on Friday August 19, 2005 @08:42AM (#13354299)
    It even gives you a radar image. Works well in bars and cars especially.

    http://mobile.srh.weather.gov/ [weather.gov]
  • by KitesWorld (901626) on Friday August 19, 2005 @08:42AM (#13354300)
    I was under the impression that most of us never go outside. Why the hell would we need to know what the weather's like? ;-) [penny-arcade.com]

  • Maybe what the National Weather Service neds to do to make themselves more techn friendly is give Mother Nature Herself a blog:

    Mood: Sunny.

    Can't wait until the fall harvest season arrives; all this grain makes me feel hot and a trim will be great!

    I hate those new sat photos they released yesterday. They make me look fat.

    I wonder what Mars is doing. We were, like, so totally close during perihelion, but then he drifted away. Men.

  • by JabberWokky (19442) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Friday August 19, 2005 @08:47AM (#13354317) Homepage Journal
    They always have been - they just hadn't upgraded in awhile. Back in the 80s, you could pull forecasts and weather alerts off their ftp server and as gopher and the web were invented, they gave access to those new technologies. I think they even had a finger service.

    This was long before XML, so they invented their own format called METAR, no more difficult than, say, email. It was standard, and they have made it public for decades.

    "Becoming one of the most geek-friendly government agencies"? They always have been!

    --
    Evan

    • Any government agency which uses some of the largest computers in the world to crunch through chaotic systems is a good government agency.
      Also: Weather-Girls!
    • by kabz (770151) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:08AM (#13354410) Homepage Journal
      Aaaarrrrggghhhh!! METAR, the bane of student pilots everywhere, but it *is* ok once you get used to it.
      KIAH 190953Z 00000KT 10SM CLR 24/23 A2997 RMK AO2 SLP148 T02440233 $

      It's not really surprising that the weather service is kinda geeky. Most of it probably rubbed off from pilots who are probably in the top 3 geeky professions.
    • by typical (886006) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:11AM (#13354423) Journal
      Yeah, seriously. I had the same thought. "Becoming?"

      They had (have?) a telnet server that dumps out data as well.

      I looked into writing a METAR-parsing library at one point.

      The US government is pretty good about providing electronic information. Heck, GNU's timezone data was (is?) maintained by some guy at NIST or something. The NWS is one of the better government agencies, too.

      Accuweather can go to hell. There is a *huge* functional difference to having information free versus inexpensive. Free means that I can just write an open-source client and include it with GNOME to display the current weather on the desktop. Inexpensive means that I pretty much can't.

      If Accuweather can't manage to find a single bloody thing that they can do beyond what the NWS is doing (like, oh, throwing effort into forecasting research and selling forecast data), they definitely should not be in the business.

      So Santorum is the guy opposing free weather data, huh? And he's the guy who hates gays?

      Damn, I really wish that I still lived in Pennsylvania. There's one vote that sure would have been useful.
    • You are correct that they made it available and that it was in METAR format. But METAR is not very accessible to developers... just three or four years ago I spent a good deal of time trying to find information on how to break down the METAR codes into something meaningful. I discovered that most web developers were using 3rd-party scripts to scrape the data from Weather.com. Every time weather.com changed their page, the script would need to be updated.

      I found very few resources on METAR format. It seemed
      • Years and years ago, there was a textfile in the root of the ftp site that gave the specific, broken down and unambiguous definition of the format. Heck, checking right now, it's the first result of a Google for METAR.

        --
        Evan

        • Thinking of it now, I did see some of those pages but didn't find many of them very helpful to me for deciphering the data itself. I just found a whole slew now that have more information than I ever found back then.

          I was still in college and wasn't a very proficient coder at the time. Combined with my confusion about ICAO, and it was a wonder I got it to work at all.
      • But METAR is not very accessible to developers... just three or four years ago I spent a good deal of time trying to find information on how to break down the METAR codes into something meaningful.

        You must have not looked very hard. UCAR [ucar.edu] has had Perl-based decoders for a lot longer than that.

        I found very few resources on METAR format.

        You only need one resource:

        FMH-1 [ofcm.gov]

        - Tony
  • weatherbug hack (Score:3, Informative)

    by kcornwell (555464) <deduction@gmail.YEATScom minus poet> on Friday August 19, 2005 @08:48AM (#13354325) Homepage
    Script for weatherbug data... http://www.hotscripts.com/Detailed/45726.html [hotscripts.com]
  • ....and that is, not a lot of he US is "wired" appropriately to receive this kind of service. Though dial-up is good enough for rural America, I doubt anyone can simply dial in just to get information on the service through google maps!
  • Current conditions and forecasts are also available via WAP in WML format. This is the killer app IMHO: complete weather information on your phone.

    (Requires browser that can handle WML.)

    http://www.srh.noaa.gov/wml/wap_zc.php?zc=ann%20ar bor%2C%20mi [noaa.gov]
  • by Kevinv (21462) <kevin@@@vanhaaren...net> on Friday August 19, 2005 @08:58AM (#13354362) Homepage
    My father worked for the NWS (retired now). The whole department is nothing but geeks. I had to go to his office after school every day. I learned BASIC on a mainframe ("here this'll keep you busy."). I got to use some touch-screen computer that was networked with a bunch of computers at a Michigan college (I don't think it used Arpanet but it may have). I played a graphical MUD type thing that looked like Wizardry eventually would but I could interact with other players. It pretty much rocked.
  • This could go dark.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by CSHARP123 (904951) on Friday August 19, 2005 @08:59AM (#13354367)
    Recently a Senator (Rick Santorum, R-PA )introduced a bill prohibiting federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel [palmbeachpost.com]. Now we can get this information for free. When this kind of bill gets passed we need to pay to get weather information.
    • by Bimo_Dude (178966)
      I have already written my senators on this matter, and have urged all of my friends (in the US anyway) to do the same. I never heard anything back from the senators, and it's been three months already. With their voting records, they must be too busy kissing up to accuweather to actually read their mail.

      The EFF [eff.org] is also asking for help on this one.

      *sigh* I can't wait for election day!

    • Santorum is on Pennsylvania's shitlist for a bunch of reasons. He is up for re-election in 2006, and let us just say that he stands a snowballs chance in hell of returning. The Democrats are going so far as to put a Pro-Lifer up against him to divide the Christian Right vote.

      Santorum is on the record for saying a pile of things that have alienated him from anyone with an IQ above 70. He has also been next to useless when the BRAC tried to remove that last active airbase in PA.


    • When this kind of bill gets passed we need to pay to get weather information.

      Correction: You need to pay twice. Through tax dollars, you already have paid for the weather data to be collected and analyzed by the NWS. If the bill passes, the only way to get weather information would be to go through one of the weather repackagers and pay (via money or ads) again.
  • Let's not forget about Santorum's bill that would basically force the NWS to remove all of these advancements so that the paid weather services can make a profit. The taxpayers have already paid for the collection and processing of weather information and his bill would make the availability of the paid-for information in question. Don't just take my word for it, read this [palmbeachpost.com]. Or, just google on "santorum weather bill".
    • Why do I envision levar burton (is that how you spell it?) saying this post now? "But don't take my word for it.........." Reading Rainbow. Anyone remember that show? I always thought that levar was pretty cool. He was pretty good in Roots too. Truly an underused talent.
  • by CiXeL (56313) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:03AM (#13354381) Homepage
    I'm still waiting for hurricane overlays for google earth. That would really be neat.

    Didn't I hear something just recently though about the national weather service trying to cut off access to the free information because they said there were enough free or advertizing subsidized services out here already? ahh yes heres some information on it http://www.livejournal.com/community/weathernerds/ 229555.html [livejournal.com]
    The bill can be read here
    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:s786 [loc.gov]:
    • That is Rick Santorum's bill. The NWS has no intention of cutting off service. The greedy chaps at Accuweather have decided that its just easier to buy a senator with campaign funds than to try and compete. No coincidence they both share the same state of residence. Honestly, I hope this bill goes nowhere. We need the NWS a lot more than we need to start paying accuweather for free information. Nevermind the violations of the FOI Act that such a bill would introduce.

      For the record, this is the same senator
      • My Gods, Pennsylvania is a very backwards state.

        I would point out that Pittsburgh is an awesome city. Even though the local industry is dying a slow death (welcome to the Northeast -- ignored by Washington for the last 25 years) Pittsburgh remains my favorite large city in the US and I would move there in a heartbeat. Philadelphia is as blue as they come as well.

        The problem with PA is that you have Pittsburgh and Philadelphia -- with Kentucky in the middle.

        • Pittsburgh is an awesome city. Definately on my top 5 in the US. It is very cheap. I am typing this in the north side of pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the job market here has fallen flat on its face and there really isn't a whole lot in the way of good paying jobs. Lately, I've been looking at moving west (actually for a long time now). I'd love to go somewhere like Oregon or Washington, where I can take a drive and be in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no people for miles around. The great expanses that
          • If I had read your original comment two years ago before dating my current girlfriend I would have agreed wholeheartedly. There's also the state rivalry -- I'm a native New Yorker and grew up only 15 miles from the state line.

            My GF is from Carlisle originally and 90% of her family lives in Pittsburgh. When she first took me there I fell in love with the city. The landscape, the people, the food, I didn't find one thing to bitch about.

            Rochester seems to be bouncing back fairly well from the industrial d

    • This guy [keyhole.com] seems to have figured it out. I tried it out and it seems to show all of the tropical storm data I want.

      Alternatively, you can also use X-Planet cloud map overlays. Set your refresh to once every few hours, and you can see the storms that way too.
  • I guess... (Score:3, Funny)

    by GypC (7592) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:04AM (#13354389) Homepage Journal
    ... you don't know any meteorologists, but...

    It looks like the National Weather Service is quickly becoming one of the most geek-friendly government agencies.

    That's because they are geeks.

  • A couple of weeks ago I attended a SkyWarn [skywarn.org] class and noticed that the NOAA trainer was using FireFox [mozilla.org] on their NOAA issued laptop.
  • I had read earlier this year about companies trying to take down the NWS, See this [ljworld.com] Brought to you by Scumbag Santorum and his posse of dirtbags. Their plan was to lock out NOAA and NWS so business interests could take over the nitch.
  • http://www.mopoke.co.uk/weather/ [mopoke.co.uk]

    Scraping of BBC Weather, but it works!
  • Don't forget about HamWeather [hamweather.com] -- it's been around for years and is still one of the best weather-related suites for web developers, it's cheap, and it's available in a variety of languages.
  • Saying that the NWS isn't or wasn't geek friendly is like saying that the pope isn't religious. The NWS has always made advanced data available, and sometimes the software necessary to use it. I think it's more likely that the "geek" community is catching up to the NWS, not the other way 'round.
  • by rah1420 (234198) <rah1420@gmail.com> on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:34AM (#13354559)
    Here's what I told him. Here's where I told it to him. [senate.gov]

    I'm opposed to your introduction of S.786, the "National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005." Why don't you just label it the "AccuWeather Protection Act of 2005" and get it over with?

    The National Weather Service provides accurate, up to date gathering of data and presents forecasts of weather at taxpayers' expense. To prohibit them from disseminating this through public access, and constrain them to "data portals designed for volume access by commercial providers" (Section 2(c)(2)) does a grave disservice to the taxpayers of Pennsylvania and the country in general. What you have done is nothing less than ensure that commercial weather reporting agencies have a taxpayer-funded data source that taxpayers are prohibited from enjoying.

    Rest assured I will be monitoring the progress of this bill through the Senate and the House.
    • Writing your Senator is nice, writing your Senator who is on the Committee where this bill was referred to is even better...

      So if you're from the following states:
      Alaska - Arizona - Montana - Mississippi - Texas - Maine - Oregon - Nevada - Virginia - New Hampshire - South Carolina - Louisiana - Hawaii - West Virginia - Massachussetts - North Dakota - California - Florida - Washington - New Jersey - Nebraska - Arkansas...

      Step up. No need to be dramatic, just tell it how it is.

      http://commerce.senate.gov/abo [senate.gov]
    • Here is what my senators had to say about this bill

      May 10, 2005

      [snip]

      Thank you for contacting me regarding S.786, the National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your views, and I share your concerns about this bill.

      S.786 seeks to severely restrict the functions of the National Weather Service (NWS), which is run by the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NWS currently offers a wide range of free weather services for all Americans, inclu
    • Writing Santorum unless you live in Pennsylvania isn't going to help. What would help is writing your own state Senators about your objection to the bill.

      Santorum hearing from residents outside of Pennsylvania will not change his mind. I'm not even sure hearing from residents inside of Pennsylvania would.

  • NWS == geeks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nate B. (2907) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:50AM (#13354677) Homepage Journal
    One of the original homes for geeks is the National Weather Service. There's gagetry galore and tons of science. I'm glad the folks at the NWS are taking advantage of newer web technologies.

    In fact, the NWS is one of the few government functions I feel is worthy of my tax dollars. This function is too much of a public good to be left in the hands of for profit companies.
  • You know they are geeks (in a good way!) because the forcast icons for 'Windy' are wind power generators. I think it's cool anyways.
  • Rick "Man on Dog" [dailykos.net] Santorum (R-PA) [rasmussenreports.com]has introduced a bill in Congress to prohibit the National Weather Service from offering any free data [palmbeachpost.com]. The NWS already subsidizes the commercial weather services by publishing weather data below cost - the corporations just repackage and sell it, with pretty visualizations. Now Santorum [urbandictionary.com] wants to take all the public data that US citizens own, and privatize it so only big corporations will be able to be in the weather game. Which means not only individual forecasts will be p
  • Weather is for geeks (Score:3, Informative)

    by ctwxman (589366) <me@@@geofffox...com> on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:56AM (#13354724) Homepage
    I'm a meteorologist (or a meaty urologist - I can never remember). It's tough to believe there is any scientific discipline better suited for computer manipulation than the weather. For years, even before the advent of today's high speed computing, data was collected in a very systematic way, making it easier to compile and compare. Because I know there are so many reading this with the ability to advance the art, let me point you to a few data sources. Each of the files at this site [noaa.gov] contains all the world's weather observations for a since hour. Here's how [noaa.gov] to translate that. Here's forecast info [psu.edu] from the GFS model, a time series for single points covering a full week's weather. Here's the same for the shorter range NAM [psu.edu] model. The Weather Service even developed this free "Swiss Army Knife" program to read them called BUFKIT [noaa.gov]. BUFKIT has saved my sorry butt on more than one occasion. Here are MOS [noaa.gov] forecasts (dynamic model forecasts 'massaged' to take into account local climatology). The NWS is just scratching the surface, but it's getting better all the time. I look at my relationship with NWS as a partnership, not a competition.
  • Santorum (Score:4, Informative)

    by ZosX (517789) <zosxavius&gmail,com> on Friday August 19, 2005 @10:37AM (#13355036) Homepage
    To those who don't know. Rick Santorum (bought and sold by accuweather which is a Pennsylvania corp) is proposing a bill that would kill free NWS information in favor of paid for info from greedy corporations like Accuweather. Since the NWS provides the bulk of Accuweather's infornation, we would essentially be paying a tax on this information and then paying accuweather to present it to us. It is almost like letting companies charge tolls on public roads that were built with public tax dollars. Pretty great huh?

    For those of you who realize what a douchebag Rick Santorum is, I bring you the following link:

    http://www.spreadingsantorum.com/ [spreadingsantorum.com]

    Also, here is a link about his proposed bill to the No Child Left behind act forcing educators to talk about "Intelligent" design. (Oh the irony!)

    Santorum Amendment [wikipedia.org]

    Here is a link to the wikipedia arcticle about the comments he made that started the whole gay controversy.

    Santorum Controversy [wikipedia.org]

    Enjoy.

    You know, if more young people voted in America, it would be my hope that scumbags such as Santorum wouldn't see the light of day. Campaign donations need to be the first to go. What the bill that santorum is introducing would do is cut the public off from something that it pays for and something that Accuweather uses. Do you think accuweather has their own satellites up there? We don't need accuweather. We NEED the NWS.
  • Bah! :P

    People just keep overlooking the better, World Wind. Sure, no high res outside the US (yet) but how about almost realtime Radar and forcast data? (Press F5 to get latest image)

    Radar Image from WW [worldwindcentral.com]

    If the data is out there, it can be formatted and brought in. And now that NWS has this.. I shall be making an add-on for WW now.

    • "Press F5" ??? After a few moments of thought, it occured to me that F5 must be the 'reload page' key in *your* specific choice (assuming you actually made a conscious choice and didnt just use whatever came on the hardware you bought) of browser/OS platform.

      It sounds like you assume that everyone else uses that same platform, or that there are no other platforms, or that every platform uses that same command/keypress functions that yours does, or perhaps that "press F5" is universally understood to *mean*
  • Us Ham Radio Guys... (Score:2, Informative)

    by ki4iib (902605)
    ...and SKYWARN folks have known for quite awhile that weather people, 'specially NWS, are some of the biggest geeks and geek-friend people around. =)
  • Geek Frinedly? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Andyham (633438) on Friday August 19, 2005 @12:04PM (#13355739)
    As many others have pointed out, the place is brimming with geeks. I volunteer there as part of the Skywarn program.

    There's a significant number of Mets that also sling a little code on their off-hours. Naturally, they like to code new weather data manipulation and presentation applications.

    They are also Open-Source friendly. The computer we use down there runs Fedora Core 3 and Firefox (at my insistence, and it was fine with them). Their AWIPS workstations run Red Hat Linux and feature 3 flat-panel montors. They are the coolest things, these AWIPS workstations. (If memory serves, the acronym means "Advanced Weather Information Presentation System").

    But there are two truly remarkable things about the people that work there that I have noticed. First, they are about the smartest group of people that I have ever worked with.

    Second, they truly have a dedication to protect and serve the public. That might sound corny to some, but not to me. They take pride in trying to warn the public of impending severe weather, and are genuinely concerned about the public's safety.

    And while they cannot publicly comment on issues such as the misguided Senator Santorum's attempt to make them work for large corporations, I can almost guarantee that they aren't happy about it (based on a few private conversations I've had with some of the staff).

    I have a deep respect for these people and do hope that Santorum's attempt to screw the public does not pass.

  • Ahh, monopolies... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lpangelrob (714473)
    Nice to see the anti-corporate trolls come out and be modded up as per usual.

    Corporate competition is a good thing. Restricting data to just corporations is what is not a good thing. Accuweather usually nails forecasts pretty well, and presents it better than the National Weather Service does. The Weather Channel happens to have talking heads on TV, even though their forecasts aren't always right. It's the site to go to for mom and dad. It took me a few months to get around the NWS site, as good as it is.

    • by Darby (84953)
      I'm getting the impression that the higher-modded posts want companies like Accuweather to just "go away".

      If by "companies like Accuweather", you mean companies that take freely available information and use it to provide a useful service which some might then choose to pay for, then your impression is all wrong.

      If by "companies like Accuweather", you mean companies that use the government to take freely available information away from the public so that only they have access to it while still making the p
      • While I dont think companies should be allowed to succeed in getting access restricted to publically-funded data, I don't quite go so far as to suggest that those that attempt to do so shouldnt be allowed to continue to exist.

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