Tracking the Weather

Not too long ago I was driving through a town and saw they advertised themselves as part of the National Weather Service “StormReady” program. Being a trained spotter for the NWS I’ve heard a lot of jargon and have a better than average idea about what the NWS is responsible for, but I had never heard of this program. Of course when I got home I had to look it up and found that such a program does exist, but apparently is not widely used (as of this date only 1086 communities nationally are certified).

According to the National Weather Service StormReady website:

StormReady is a nationwide community preparedness program that uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of severe weather—from tornadoes to tsunamis. The program encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations by providing emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations.

As an amateur radio operator and trained spotter I’d like to see more communitites participate in programs such as this as they prepare for inevitable natural disasters.

On another weather related note I discovered a piece of software called Swift WX which claims to have real-time weather radar you can watch from your PC. My suspician is that the software polls the NWS servers for the already free NEXRAD radar data overlays it on maps with other graphics. Note that with current weather radar technology the radar must make several sweeps at varying angles to create a usable composite image which takes several minutes. Furthermore, unlike systems hooked to dedicated radars such as those at many TV stations software such as this must wait for the next data update from the NWS. While this happens frequently, calling it real-time is probably a stretch. I suppose that if you weren’t satisfied using a web-based radar viewing solution a product such as this could be useful, but it doesn’t appear to be anything special.

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