It’s Raining Weather GearNew options abound for stations 3/27/2005 07:00:00 PM Eastern
Nothing makes a local newscast hum like quality weather radar. Good forecasters, and good meteorological equipment, keep viewers coming back. Expect a number of new ways to learn which way the wind blows at the NAB Show.
A new system called Predictive Radar will go where no weather radar system has ever gone before: the future. The system analyzes the past 12 hours of Nexrad data to display what will happen in the next four hours. “Everyone watching weather radar has to make a leap of faith in their minds as to where the storm will go,” says AccuWeather VP, marketing, Lee Rainey. “This is a more accurate portrayal than those using traditional mathematical models.”
And if your station wants to get into the 24-hour digital multicast business as the NBC stations are doing with WeatherPlus, you’ll have an easy option: The AccuWeather channel is currently available in 20 markets, but the company is now making it available nationally.
The fees are structured so the service will be free for stations to deploy for the first year. “We share advertising slots with the station, and there is a very attractive introductory program,” Rainey says. AccuWeather will differentiate the look in various markets and let the channel brand the service.
Stations currently signed on as AccuWeather affiliates will likely get the first crack. As for content, stations can feature just graphics or have segments produced by AccuWeather talent. (See related story on page TK.) And for those with an eye on the future, an HD version is also available.
Baron’s VIPIR 3D severe-weather-analysis system is one of those tools local stations can’t help bragging about. New this year will be a daily-forecasting tool that seamlessly integrates past, present and future weather conditions. Customers will now have a one-box/one-show solution that can cover both breaking and daily weather with increased timeliness, allowing last-minute forecast changes when necessary.
Weather Central, which is providing hardware, software and data for the new NBC Weather Plus national/local weather network, is keeping full details of its new offerings under wraps until the big show. But the company is promising equipment that will constitute a “revolutionary approach” to covering severe weather. Also, interactivity is likely to be integrated into its news, weather, sports and traffic products, and a next-generation version of Super MicroCast will forecast 84 hours ahead. “Viewers don’t need a weather report to tell them what the weather hasbeen like,” says Smedberg. “They need a forecast to tell them what the weather will be like.”
WeatherData’s StormHawk Reporter, a hand-held PDA that enables reporters to file pictures from the field, will make its debut. The PDA costs $1,495, but the reporter software is available as a free upgrade to current StormHawk users—so bring your unit to Vegas for a retrofit. Pictures can be sent back to the station via satellite and, while the images are only 2 megapixels, Weather Data CEO/founder Mike Smith says the resolution is fine. It is recommended for taking pictures during hurricanes, tornadoes or ice storms, when it isn’t safe to raise the mast of an ENG van for transmission.