November 27, 2010

New Web Weather Applications

Now that the weather has calmed down a bit and nothing serious is on the weather horizon (except for some good snowfalls in the mountains), its a good time to talk about some new powerful local weather websites.

New UW Weather Radar Interface

The first is a new weather radar website hosted by the UW. Created by Harry Edmon (the atmospheric sciences dept computer guru) with lots of input from Dale Durran, the department chair, this new local radar website combines all the local weather radars...both U.S. National Weather Service and the Canadian Environment Canada radars...into one seamless package (see sample below):

And when the new Washington coast radar becomes available, it will be added. You have nice control of the loop length and the opacity of the radar echos, as well as the loop speed. And an online tutorial about radar imagery! This site, with some coffee and donuts, would make an entertaining diversion!

How to get to it? Here is the link (or click on the image above)


How about a site that accesses the latest UW high resolution model and National Weather Service local forecasts, looking for high wind situations and displaying the information with a nice interface. This is WINDWATCH. WINDWATCH was sponsored by Seattle City Light (SCL), who is interested in accurate high-wind guidance for obvious reason, and the idea came out of discussions with SCL staff (the now retired Wing Cheng played a major role, as did Karyn Grob). Take a look at the front page of WINDWATCH

Windwatch looks out 72 h. You can view a look of sustained winds or wind gusts, with the winds indicated by wind vectors and shading (for winds exceeding 30 mph). A close in city or larger regional view are available. The initial loops is for the UW high-res model, but you can easily change to the NWS human-based forecasts by using the tab. But the fund doesn't stop there...if there is a NWS wind warning a warning tab turns it and you see what the warnings are. Or you can view the NWS local (zone) forecasts or the NWS discussion where you can understand the lead forecaster's thought process. Or try the alert tab, which will lay out all the periods...color-coded...for which the winds are predicted to exceed 30 mph.

Windwatch has another capability...when the forecast winds are predicted to be strong the software sends emails to Seattle City Light staff (or anyone else we want).

Finally, this site shows the winds above Seattle (the Profiler Tab). Although this site was designed with Seattle City Light staff in mind, it should be very useful for anyone worried about strong winds. We have considered adding a module that it will email local TV stations about the locations of the absolutely strongest winds so they can position their staff for maximum weather-hype effect.

Anyway, here is the link (or click on the windwatch image):


  1. AWESOME!! What a fantastic use of public money, I'm really glad to see great resources like this shared with everyone (but I will not stop reading/listening to your interpretation, because that's crucial).


  2. I've been using the radar since I found the link on this blog. It is very nice. I have it on my Dashboard on my macbook. One click in the Dock and there it is.
    If you have a Mac, just open the radar page from Cliff's link. Then, in Safari, under "file" click "open in dashboard..", place it where you want it on the screen and size the view according to your preferences. If you include the navigator button and zoom slider you can zoom, move the map around, etc. by clicking in the window. Try it!

  3. would this wind forecasting tool be useful for predicting the winds in the Granite Falls-Mt Pilchuck area?

    We like to ridge soar Mt Pilchuck in our sailplanes and when the wind is S-SW it can be a lot of fun. Sometimes even resulting in the wave being set up.

    Thanks, Brad

  4. Wow!
    I feel like I just unwrapped my first Christmas Present! You should have saved this for X-mas eve Cliff :)
    Thank you to all who worked on this
    regional weather radar,I have already bookmarked it and can't wait to use it on a daily basis

  5. Cliff please pass along to Harry a great big thanks for us out here at Valley Camp for such great tools. -Thom

  6. The Google Maps radar overlay is really nice; as someone who doesn't know Washington geography well enough to map pixels on a blank map to towns and mountain passes etc, I wish all weather maps were zoomable and able to show any place names or geographical features I might be interested in.

  7. Excellent composite. I have always been frustrated with the idea that weather stops at the border!

  8. I can see the benefit of this new format.

    I hope this also does not mean the old loops are going away.

    There is value is presenting the data that way, without all the extraneous detail.

    With the new format, I have to zoom in 3 times to get to the information I really want, and it not as clear as before. However, I do like being able to get a regional view.

    It will be nice when the second radar comes online to see what is really going on over the entire region. We ofter hear of forecasts for 4-10 inches of rain over the western Olympics. Can't wait to watch some of those storms come onshore!

  9. Wonderful new tool, thank you.

  10. Cliff,

    Great, that's EXACTLY what the newsies need, but make sure it only works during sweeps months or when they can't find a horrible crime in some small town first!

    Actually our news people (and my bosses) at this station are very reasonable. We have really good communication and they respect us. If I ask them to not use a phrase or sentence, they won't. If I say a certain event isn't goint to occur, they don't imply it will. That does not happen at two other stations in Portland.

    Mark Nelsen
    Chief Meteorologist
    KPTV - Portland

  11. This is great for planning sailing and boating in the area. Thanks for posting.

  12. WoW! That is indeed Awesome Cliff!
    Thanks for passing this wonderful information by.

  13. Professor, is there any chance we will ever be able to have a choice of PRF (DBZ) settings as users of these sites?

    NOAA-PQR frequently leaves their 88-D radar in a low-DBZ mode and seems to forget about it. It would be nice if we users could switch between low and high DBZ settings.

  14. Absolutely amazing! I love the new systems . Can't wait till the new radar is added to the mosaic!

  15. like the holidays came early. Amazing new tools. Thanks for sharing. I am always happy to learn more about what the atmos group is up to.

    Looking forward to the new radar being added to the mosaic!

  16. This is fantastic! Next generation. Onto the next-next generation, would be nice to see where the radar does not cover. Many of the mountain areas have no precip. That is impossible. If somehow a background can indicate radar coverage.

  17. Ummm, isn't anybody interested in the Windstorm that is occurring just to the North of The "Big Evil City"? It hasn't quite reached the levels predicted (sustained 20-35mph, gusts to 55mph) but we've had steady winds, gusting to 30mph since yesterday afternoon til now, 10am, in Bellingham. Further up the Straight they've had more low 40's.

    We really need a knowledgable Bellingham Weather Blogger because we at the confluence of the Fraser Outflow and the Straight of Juan de Fuca consistently have un-noted extreme weather. I remember a few years ago when there was a windstorm that gusted up to 80mph in Seattle! Nobody noticed that Bellingham had 90mph winds within days of the Seattle storm.

  18. hmm I still like this site for radar weather.

  19. One of the things that frustrates me about most weather animations is having to discern the time format (local or UTC) and read the time as the animation proceeds. Perhaps it is time to experiment with some sort of animated calendar/timeline to accompany these type of graphical forecast products. Tide tables on a calendar are very intuitive for me, a cursor moving across a calendar (that might include periods of darkness) might be a good starting point.

  20. Cliff, I think it would be helpful to superimpose faint circles on the map to indicate the boundaries of the returns. Watching the Pineapple Express I'm not sure if moisture is evaporating over eastern Oregon and then recondensing approaching Boise, or if the space in between is due to lack of coverage.



Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

Is Global Warming Causing Aircraft Turbulence to Increase?

 After the turbulence encounter by a Singapore Airlines aircraft,  there has been a slew of articles claiming that severe turbulence inciden...