GR2Analyst 2.0 (branded as #chswx Analyst) looking at the KGSP radar Saturday afternoon. (Alas, a quiet day in Charleston.)
A big upgrade to one of my go-to radar analysis tools, GR2Analyst 2.0, is now out, allowing for a uniform presentation between it, GRLevel3, and GREarth, all tools I use on a regular basis. Here’s what I particularly like about GR2Analyst 2.0 (and, in many cases, the 2.x series of GR products in general):
Easy movement between panel configurations. The GR radar viewers let you split the screen into 2 and 4 panels to assist in more rapid and accurate diagnosis of radar features, and you can assign up to 8 panel configurations to the number keys 1-8 for quickly flipping through them. For instance, I’ll be looking at radar when I see an area of what looks like rain moving into the area; I can hit the ‘4’ key which brings up a two-panel view of reflectivity and correlation coefficient (a dual-polarization product) which can pretty quickly tell me if I’m dealing with something meteorological or not. I also have presets saved with four-panel views of varying tilts of a storm’s reflectivity and velocity, a four-panel view for tornado debris detection, as well as a four-panel view which focuses on locating areas of damaging winds and large hail. I have similar presets in GRLevel3 especially surrounding hydrology (rainfall products do not currently exist in GR2Analyst because they are not base data).
Right-click to zoom. Previous versions of the GR products required enabling a separate zoom tool; now, just hold the right mouse button and drag and it zooms in on an area. This works really well on my Magic Mouse; on the trackpad, I more typically just flick upward to zoom in, though if I hold Control and drag, that will have the same effect.
A cleaner overall presentation. Being able to choose the widths of lines and add borders and highlights to many of them reduces the potential for confusion between state and county lines when using shades of gray to delineate them. I also appreciate that cities are outlined and not tied to a specific point and that warnings have similar borders and highlights now. One cool thing in the 2.x GR products is their ability to parse through tornado warning text and apply special highlights if the tornado is reported on the ground or the NWS employs “Tornado Emergency” wording.
A long-standing bug with Flash Flood Warnings has been fixed. In previous versions of GR2Analyst, if a flash flood warning is extended using a Flash Flood Statement, it did not know about it and would remove or fail to rebox the polygon despite the fact the warning would continue for at least part of the area. The 2.x series of GR products fixed this bug and I’m glad I’ll have consistent flash flood polygon display again across all my software packages.
I can maintain one set of color tables. At long last, my gigantic GR 1.x color table folder can either be purged or converted to GR 2.x-compatible color table files. Incompatible color tables were a big growing pain during the transition to the new products; I’m glad this transition is over for me. (People who use vanilla GRLevel2 will still need to maintain older color tables.)
The GR 2.x series also ships with the ability to acquire high-resolution background imagery from various sources (depending on zoom level). While beautiful, the Landsat imagery isn’t terribly compatible with a lot of my more advanced color tables designed to help subtle features stand out; I also find that in my Windows XP virtual machine the Landsat background, when combined with the METAR placefile from AllisonHouse, causes a big drag on performance. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep the background enabled in Analyst as a result. Otherwise, though, performance is great in the VM — really surprisingly good considering it is running against a Core 2 Duo.
All in all, the new GR2Analyst will make it that much easier to do what I do over on @chswx, and that is pretty outstanding. (A free upgrade because I bought the dual-polarization addon for 1.x helps, too.)
Dual-polarization data isn’t flowing to most people yet — based on my experience with the upgrade at Sterling, VA earlier this year, a day or two of calibration is still needed before the products are turned on over the Level III data stream (which serves a majority of the radar apps out there, including GRLevel3 and RadarScope). Dual-pol moments are available over Level II, though I’ll wait to rely too heavily on them until NWS gives the data its public blessing.
RadarScope 1.1 for Mac is out. RadarScope has been my go-to radar app on iOS since I got my iPod touch back in 2009, and quickly became my go-to solution for a Mac-native radar viewer. Version 1.0 was fairly solid but was missing some of the AllisonHouse and Spotter Network integration features the iOS version had. No worries, though, as 1.1 adds those back (lightning data being, for me, the most critical) along with some welcome UI tweaks to more easily control the radar display. While I still bring out GR2Analyst in my Boot Camp partition for heavy-duty analysis, I always keep RadarScope open in a Space for quick reference, and thanks to the improvements in 1.1, I’ll use it even more extensively. RadarScope is $30 and available in the Mac App Store (AllisonHouse data is subscription-based — I have had the $10/month “Storm Chaser” plan for many years and it has proven invaluable).
I can’t remember the last time I saw snow in December in SC; that’s what made the snow showers over the weekend that much more fun. Accumulation was very sparse (definitely not like snows we had back in February) but it was still a good time. Here are some iPhone photos I took during the snowstorm. There are a few photos of the heaviest snows still stuck on my mother’s point-and-shoot that I should extract and upload. Also, don’t forget this video of one of the snow showers.
Base velocity image of Hurricane Alex from Brownsville Doppler RADAR at 10:51 PM ET.
Hurricane Alex made landfall on the Mexican coast tonight as a Category 2 hurricane. The velocity image above is pretty ominous; the bright oranges and deep blues (indicating motion away from and toward the radar site to the north, respectively) are indicative of very strong winds upwards of 115-120 MPH (the radar beam at its lowest tilt, at a distance of 108 nautical miles from the Brownsville radar, is looking at the hurricane at around 14,000 feet, hence the slightly higher winds from the advertised 105 MPH surface winds at landfall). The base reflectivity image is pretty impressive as well, showing lots of spiral rain bands being tossed into south Texas. The most startling image though is the estimated storm rain totals already exceeding a foot of rain in some spots. There will be much flooding before this is all said and done. Thoughts are with those in Texas and Mexico this evening as this storm pushes through.
The first rumbles of Spring are about in Charleston today, and I still find myself longing for software comparable to GR2Analyst, my go-to RADAR analysis software, on the Mac. However, WeatherScope, a project of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey at the University of Oklahoma, fills a need I had on Windows for a full-fledged weather map. In addition to overlaying Level III NEXRAD, it also lets you pull surface and upper-air data from a variety of sources, and plot it in a variety of ways. The interface is a bit cumbersome at first and the software takes some work to set up, but you can configure a pretty nice map in little time. Take a look at a map I created with a composite of the three state NEXRAD installations, a gradient and numerical display of air temperature, and a contour display of area dewpoints. While this software certainly will not replace GR2Analyst for RADAR functionality, it certainly holds its own, especially for free software!
Volumetric analysis of KILX radar over Myrtle Beach. Note small smoke plumes.
It’s never good when a fire registers on a weather radar, and well enough to show up in a vertical cross-section to boot. My thoughts are with those who are under siege from wildfires near Myrtle Beach. As a San Diego native whose family has been under repeated threat from wildfires over the last several years, I’m very sensitive to such situations.
Today was remarkable in Charleston for another reason than a historic day in America; depending on where you were, it snowed! It will continue to do so, too, throughout the evening and into tonight. Here’s a radar still from 6:00 PM, showing where snow has been reported (lots of places!)
NWS Charleston has noted accumulations of up to a quarter inch in Colleton County, with a trace of snow throughout the Charleston metro. I, personally, have seen a few flakes but nothing really out of the ordinary just yet. I’ll take video if/when I do. However, it seems as if the heaviest snow is remaining to the south and west; no telling if it will creep a bit more northeast. NWS keeps us in a 60% chance of snow and a Winter Weather Advisory until 11 PM, so it’s likely that we’ll see a bit more snow in the area before it’s over. Major accumulations aren’t expected; rather, the threat will be from puddles where it rained/sleeted earlier this morning refreezing overnight, as temperatures are expected to dip into the lower 20s inland (mid-20s near the coast). Wind chills will be somewhere in the low teens again. (It’s clear that Old Man Winter is reasserting himself after that absolutely balmy December.) Be very careful driving tomorrow morning in rush hour!
This morning I started the #omgsnow09 hashtag for Twitter users to make snow reports; there have been a lot of reports in North Charleston, and a couple in Summerville as well. Keep an eye on that one throughout the evening as more reports roll in. Also, watch @chswx on Twitter for updates as needed.