Before everyone has a European-model lovefest, I should point out that that the European model has been *spectacularly* wrong about a few hurricanes over the past 2 years with respect to South Florida landfall (or non-landfall). I remember at least one (possibly Sandy or Isaac) where it was totally out in wacky-land ~5 days out, and didn't converge back into agreement with reality until 2-3 days later.
OK, here's a hard benefit: imagine how much money it costs a company like Citibank to close offices for a day or more in anticipation of an upcoming storm. It's staggering. If it allows a company like that to make better decisions about which offices and branches are unquestionably going to have to be closed, and which ones might be able to safely remain open, the hard dollar value would be measured in millions. Ditto for concert venues, sporting events, tourist destinations (hello, Disney? Myrtle Beach?), and pretty much anything where the cost of cancelling some event planned months in advance is substantial.
It extends to small businesses, and working people, too. Many service-industry employees (waiters, waitresses, hotel maids, etc) only get paid for hours they work. If a hotel/restaurant is closed for a storm, that's money out of their next paycheck. If better forecasts allow the hotel/restaurant to remain open instead of having to evacuate the tourists early, that's a very good thing. Ditto, for those tourist families on vacation. Good forecasts could make the difference between having their expensive vacation ruined, and enjoying another day or two on the beach.
AFAIK, 256kbps frame relay at WSR88-D sites, and 128kbps ISDN at TDWR sites. I believe they're now in the process of upgrading the TDWR sites to 256kbps frame-relay, and enabling 1-minute updates for tilt-1 data as they get the backhaul updates completed.
The big, huge, immediate improvement from backhaul upgrades is basically 1-minute updates for the lower tilt. I believe they're doing TDWR now, and hoping to use it as a demonstration of value to gain support for doing the same for the WSR88D sites "really soon". That said, I think the upgrades might have fallen victim to the budget sequester, because they haven't (officially, AFAIK) said a word about them in several months, even though they were all supposed to be coming online right about now.
Reliability is a *huge* issue.
Consumer-grade broadband is NOTORIOUSLY vulnerable to regional power outages... something that tends to happen simultaneously with bad storms. Imagine the outrage if South Florida lost its radar every time the outer rain bands of a hurricane started to knock out the local power grid, or if Oklahoma or Kansas lost their radar when an advancing squall line knocked out Comcast's power a half hour before the parade of tornadoes following it arrived?
Even if they had lower-res lower-bandwidth modes to fall back on, the fact remains that they can't have weather radar failing precisely when it's needed the most. They MUST have reliable broadband that doesn't depend upon commercial power, backed up with SLAs that have teeth and real penalties if the telco doesn't keep up its end of the deal.
You're mostly right, but you're overlooking the software limits that exist mainly due to the limited bandwidth. If they upgraded the sites to a full T1 and tweaked the software a bit, they could give us new tilt-1 updates every minute, with about 15-60 seconds of radar-to-end-user latency, without major hardware upgrades besides the T1 interface itself.
Compare that to now, where we get only a single tilt-1 scan every 6 minutes, and that scan might itself be delayed by another 6-10 minutes on top of that. There are ALREADY several VCP programs that sample tilt 1 every minute... they just can't send out that data, and only use it locally for calculating their derived products, because they don't currently have the dedicated bandwidth to send it out.
Remember, WSR88D is kind of like an Atari 2600... it has very few limits that are truly "hard" and insurmountable. Rather, they're software-imposed in recognition of other limiting factors like backhaul bandwidth, or are precautionary limits imposed to guarantee that some specific product can always be fully-derived and delivered within some specific amount of time, or in a way that won't be destroyed by random errors. Many of them could be substantially improved with even minor hardware upgrades in other areas.
There are real limits to resolution imposed by scattering, wavelength, and particle size, but from what I've read, the current level 2 scan data is still throwing away about 30-50% of the nominal max resolution, and enormous amounts of theoretical resolution that could be recovered through oversampling. At this point, NWS doesn't even *know* what they could derive offsite from oversampled level 2 data, because they've never had the backhaul resources to even *fantasize* about streaming it in its full oversampled glory, or even archiving it all on site. 20 years ago, the idea of having 64 terabytes of on-site raid storage for Amazon/Google-like raw indiscriminate archiving would have been unthinkable, and never even entered into the equation.
The current scan rates are a compromise that tries to balance their backhaul against the need to track fast-moving storms like tornadoes. If they mounted a second, fixed-tilt dish back to back with the current dish so that every rotation produced a tilt-1 sample, they could alternate the back-facing samples between slow and fast pulse rates (so every other scan would be alternately optimized for range or resolution), and dedicate the front-facing dish currently in place to sampling the higher tilts (interleaving them to sample lower tilts twice at both PRF rates). Freed of the need to dedicate at least two full sweeps out of each volume scan to tilt 1 (because the back-facing antenna would sample tilt one every time the dish rotated), they could possibly slow down the rotation rate and use it to increase the resolution.
The closest thing I've seen to my idea was a paper someone at NOAA wrote about a year or two ago, proposing a compromise between fixed-tilt back-to-back conventional radar, and full-blown (and likely to be cost-prohibitive) phased-array radar 360-degree fixed radar. Basically, their idea was to build a limited wedge of PAR modules capable of sampling 4 tilts over ~1 degree horizontal, and mount it to the back side of the existing dish assembly, so that it could sample 4 tilts per revolution, and give us the equivalent resolution of 4-tilt level 3 TDWR every 12-15 seconds. The idea is that NOAA would then have a TDWR-resolution rapidly-updating radar source for tracking fast-moving/rapidly-developing storms off the back, and could slow down the overall rotation to get more detailed ultra-hires samples than we have now off the front dish.
The catch, from what I recall, was that they'd HAVE to decrease the RPM, and use 5.8GHz (like TDWR) for the rear array, because there just isn't enough C-band 10cm spectrum available to simultaneously broadcast 5 pulse beams without creating an interference scenario that would make their current range-folding issues look downright tame. They'd have to reduce the rotation rate to get enough range (TDWR's current short range timing has a range of about 50 miles, which is barely enough for most existing WSR88D sites to cover their own downtown areas, let alone outer suburbia in the direction away from the RDA).
Nevertheless, it's an interesting proposal. Going forward beyond that, the combination of PAR with tilt and rotation (instead of fixed in orientation) gives you the ability to do scanner-like oversampling. Increase the horizontal PAR width, and you can rotate it faster without sacrificing resolution, as long as you can do FHSS frequency-hopping from pulse to pulse. A distant echo will register at the far end of the sensor array as frequency #1... a nearby echo might register near the middle of the sensor arc as frequency #2. And so on. Eventually, when PAR technology becomes cheaper, the rotation rate can be slowed down. When you can afford to sense 180 degrees instead of 90, you can rotate half as fast. When you can afford to sense 360 degrees instead of 180, you can eliminate the rotation entirely, or rotate slowly to double your horizontal resolution at the expense of framerate.
Supercomputing improvements are nice, but I personally want to see them get the cash to profoundly increase their NEXRAD backhaul (the data lines connecting their radar sites to the outside world).
Right now, they're HORRIBLY backhaul-constrained. I believe most/all NEXRAD sites only have 256kbps frame relay to upload raw data to NOAA's datacenter for further processing & distribution to end users. As a result, they're forced to throw away data at the radar site to trim it down to size, and send it via UDP with little/no modern forward error correction. That's a major reason why glitches are common. In theory, the full-resolution data is archived to tape on site and CAN be mailed in if some major weather event happens that might merit future study, but the majority of collected data gets archived to tape, then unceremoniously overwritten a few days later. And most of the tapes that DO get sent in sit in storage for weeks or months before finally getting added to their near-line data archive.
The low backhaul bandwidth is made worse by the fact that the secondary radar products (level 3 radar, plus the derived products like TVS) get derived on site, and wedged into the SAME bandwidth-constrained data stream. That's part of the reason why level 3 data lags by 6-15 minutes... they send the raw level 2 data, and interleave the previous scan's level 3 data into the bandwidth that's left over. I believe the situation with TDWR sites is even worse... I think THEY actually have a single ISDN line, which is why level 2 data from them isn't available to the public at all.
As I understand it, they can't use lossless compression for two reasons -- since they have no error correction for the UDP stream, a glitch would take out a MUCH bigger chunk of data (possibly ruining the remainder of the tilt's data), and the error correction would defeat the size savings from the compression. Apparently, the processors at the site are pretty slow (by modern computer standards), so it would also add significant delay to getting the data out. When you're tracking a tornado running across the countryside at 50-60mph, 30 seconds matters.
If NWS had funding to increase their backhaul to at least T-1 speeds, they could also tweak their scan strategies a bit to make them more useful to others. For example, they could do more frequent tilt-1 scans (the lowest level, which is the one that usually affects people the most directly), and almost immediately upgrade all current NEXRAD sites to have 1-minute updates for tilt 1 (adding about a minute to the time it takes to do a full volume scan, but putting data more immediately useful to end users out much more frequently).
Going a step further, more bandwidth would open the door to a fairly cheap upgrade to the radar arrays themselves... they could mount a second antenna back-to-back with the current one with fixed tilt (ideally at 10cm, like the main one, but possibly 5cm like TWDR if 10cm spectrum isn't available, or a second dish of the proper size for 10cm wouldn't fit), and do some moderate hardware and software tweaks that would effectively increase their tilt-1 scanrate to one every 6-10 seconds (because every full rotation of the main antenna would give them a full tilt-1 rotation off the back). This means they could send out raw tilt-1 data with 6-10 second frequency. It's not quite realtime, but it would be a HUGE improvement over what we have now.
Unfortunately, NWS has lots of bureaucracy, and a slow funding pipeline. I think it's safe to say that the explosion in popularity of personal radar apps, combined with mobile broadband, almost totally caught them by surprise. Ten years ago, very few people outside NWS were calling for large-scale NEXRAD upgrades. Now, with abundant Android and IOS apps & 5mbps+ mobile data the norm, demand is surging.
That said, I hope they DON'T squander a chunk of cash on public datafeed bandwidth instead of upgrading their backhaul. I'd rather see them do the back-end upgrades that only THEY can do, and tell people who want reliable & frequent upgrades to get their data feed through a private mirror service (like allisonhouse or caprockweather) who can upgrade their own backhaul as needed, instead of having to put in funding requests years in advance.
You have it wrong. The third-world products are mostly UN-encumbered. It's the products meant for sale in the US, Japan, and Europe that end up gimped and crippled into proprietary uselessness.
Correction: be able to stream local content, not be locked to Google, and be both rootable & reflashable so it won't end up in landfills like the Revue and original Nexus Q did.
That's why double-gang divided NEMA boxes and conduit exist. Build the plastic box and conduit into the furniture, ship it with both ends covered by screw-on plates, and leave it up to the end users to wire it as they please (a pair of outlets, a single-gang outlet plus a low-voltage keystone, or whatever).
With a divided double-gang box fed by separate 1/2" conduits, you can run just about anything. At the other end of one conduit, they could put a 15A 120v RV-type "inlet", like this one: http://inverterservicecenter.com/Marinco-150BBIW.RV (if you wanted to wire both gangs for power, instead of using one for ethernet/fiber/whatever, you'd pull out the box divider at the outlet end and feed both from the same conduit). Carlon ENT conduit is perfect for this purpose ( http://www.tnb.com/ps/endeca/index.cgi?a=nav&N=3819+601+3818 ). Worst-case, they could use Hubbell's funky JLOAD single-gang multimedia outlets, which pair a single 120v power outlet with a pair of low-voltage keystones, designed for use with a special box that shields the high-voltage power away from the low-voltage wiring. ( http://www.cesco.com/b2c/product/447768 )
That's part of the reason why FEC (Florida East Coast Railroad) has never been actively *hostile* towards passenger trains, compared to railroads like CSX(*). FEC runs mile-long trains hauling limestone at 60mph on glass-smooth welded-rail tracks that are maintained to higher standards than some stretches of track in the NEC itself. FEC's one non-negotiable mandate for voluntary passenger service on their tracks has always been that someone else had to pay to lay down a second track, maintain it to FEC's no-compromise high standards, and equip every train that runs on them with in-cab signaling and the kind of automation rarely found outside of Japan(**).
Once Amtrak, Florida, and a federal funding act or two cleared the way for the feds to pay most of the bulk cost of double-tracking FEC from Jacksonville to Miami, FEC announced that Amtrak was welcome with open arms (Amtrak itself is still trying to scrape up funding for the trainsets themselves, or come up with a good way to split & join NY-Florida trains in Jacksonville so half can proceed straight down the east coast to Miami, and the other half can run to Orlando & Tampa (historically, Amtrak has always resisted splitting/joining trains anywhere besides an endpoint).
(*)About 15 years ago, FDOT approached CSX with a request to double-track it from Auburndale to Tampa for Tampa-Miami passenger rail. CSX refused. FDOT offered to TRIPLE-track it... and CSX still refused. Exasperated, FDOT offered to elevate a ~12 mile segment running through Lakeland, and CSX told them that the only way they'd voluntarily allow it is if FDOT agreed to let CSX refund the purchase price and demolish it at will if it later decided that the support columns or track structure were in the way of whatever they felt like doing. That was the turning point when FDOT decided that any future rail route between Orlando and Tampa simply *had* to run along I-4 instead of CSX... CSX was impossible to deal with in any sane way, and taking the corridor via eminent domain would have ended up costing more than building it down the middle of I-4 instead (I-4 was planned for complete reconstruction over the next 10-20 years anyway, and FDOT owned a fairly wide corridor that was straight and flat, so they just designed the empty space into the new road and bridges so it would be there when the day came to build the new tracks).
(**)FEC is a HUGE proponent of cross-training and automation, and because it operates entirely within a single state, it can get away with telling its union to go to hell over things that would get CSX crucified. For example, FEC requires all engineers and conductors to be cross-trained and capable of serving either role as needed (sensible and efficient, but *vehemently* opposed by railroad unions because it means the conductor can operate the train while the engineer takes a break, instead of having to staff a second engineer while the conductor twiddles his thumbs). I believe it also requires engineer-conductors to have college degrees.
I wonder whether Larry got vaccinated for rabies a month or two before the laryngeal paralysis became apparent.
There's growing evidence that indiscriminate annual rabies vaccinations commonly performed on dogs & cats might be the root cause of the growing number of cases of laryngeal paralysis seen among pets in the US.
At the macro level, the evidence is pretty compelling:
* Laryngeal paralysis was practically unheard of in cats, and rare in dogs, until about 10 years ago... right around the time vaccines that use live modified rabies virus started to be used in cats as an alternative to adjuvanted rabies vaccines made from inactivated rabies virus.
* Laryngeal paralysis is usually accompanied by rear hindquarters lameness, and other symptoms that are basically mild versions of the same symptoms on a rabies screening checklist.
* More to the point, if you were to read about the symptoms of rabies, then describe a hypothetical variant that's mild, chronic, and non-communicable... you'd almost *precisely* describe the symptoms observed in cats with laryngeal paralysis.
The live-vs-adjuvanted distinction is important, and part of the reason why the theory is so controversial. Adjuvanted vaccines have a long, well-documented history of inducing vaccination-site sarcomas (cancer) in cats. A small number, to be sure... but enough to be unmistakable and visible (it's hard to argue that a vaccine didn't induce a tumor when one spontaneously appears in the *exact spot* where a vaccine was injected a few months earlier, even if the precise ingredient of the injection that caused it is unknown). The arrival of non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine was hailed as a major step forward, because it's presumably safer for cats... unless, of course, a small number of cats exposed to it end up developing chronic lab-induced rabies.
Making matters worse, the revenue vets get from those vaccinations is a major part of their annual income. Because most vets do, in fact, love cats and dogs and want to do what's right for them, this presents them with a terrible choice they're forced to make. Some simply ignore the problem, blindly cite legal compliance as an excuse, and wash their hands of moral responsibility. Others will now provide annual waivers for elderly and debilitated cats who would be risky to vaccinate at all (illness appears to be a MAJOR risk factor in post-vaccination LP), and will offer clients the option of titer-tests instead in an effort to roll the dice fewer times and reduce the likelihood of VAS or LP in that manner.
In any case, there's already strong (if anecdotal) evidence that live rabies vaccines are a major (if not THE) risk factor behind feline laryngeal paralysis, and it's not inconceivable that something similar might happen to humans who are vaccinated with live, modified rabies virus as PEP.
> I don't think Florida has figured out that one yet.
Florida courts have even upheld DUI convictions for people riding a BIKE: http://www.jacksonvillecriminallawyerblog.com/2008/11/in_florida_you_can_get_a_dui_f.html
I believe that in California or New York, if the driver of a car is arrested for DUI, the police can actually force PASSENGERS who are under 18 (but not 18-20) to submit to blood alcohol testing too, arrest them for alcohol possession if they exceed some threshold, and suspend THEIR licenses if they refuse -- even though they themselves weren't the ones behind the wheel driving.
I can attest to airbag injuries. I was in an accident 12 years ago, wearing a seatbelt, and had the airbag deploy. It pushed one of my hands up through the windshield (leaving me with so many laceration wounds, the doctors had to spend 10 minutes debating whether or not I needed skin grafts, and to this day I have no feeling across probably 15% of the back of my hand due to nerve damage), and left me with second-degree burns on both forearms.
The culprit? Hyundai designed the 2001 Tiburon for European and Asian airbags, then put bigger airbags into its US models without bothering to notice or care that a deployed airbag would actually push out the windshield... made worse by the fact that they were *notorious* for triggering in low-speed crashes that were WELL below the threshold set by the NTSB. Without the airbag, I would have walked away from the accident without meaningful injury, and my car would have had about $2,000 worth of damage. Instead, my hand got shredded, and my car was a total loss because airbag deployments are too expensive to cost-effectively fix (it's cheaper for insurance companies to declare the car a loss, pay the owner, then sell the car to someone who'll export it to Haiti and repair it *there* with the airbags omitted or disabled, unless you're talking about a very new, very expensive car).
> Drive drunk, lose the car.
The problem is that in the US, 99% of cars aren't actually *owned* by the driver... they're secured assets owned by a lender. If a state attempted to impose such a law, every lender in the state would *instantly* require "DWI forfeiture insurance", and every driver in the state would instantly see his annual car insurance rates get a few hundred dollars tacked on to the premium to cover it.
> Heavily industrialized states like Texas and Florida
WTF, *FLORIDA*?!? Florida has no meaningful industry to speak of besides tourism and building construction arising from the state's own growth.