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May 1999
ArachnoFiles"
Each month in this column we highlight an in-house Web page of interest. Send your suggestions to bhenson@ucar.edu.

A plum site for the weather connoisseur

If you use the Internet to follow day-to-day weather, you may already be familiar with the RAP Real-Time Weather Data page. It provides a wealth of current images: satellite photos, radar displays, surface observations, and output from computer forecast models. The images are largely produced through NCAR Graphics routines; many of them be viewed as loops. The site avoids bandwidth-heavy bells and whistles in favor of a clean, easy-to-navigate approach.

Creator Greg Thompson joined NCAR and RAP in 1993 after completing his master's degree at Colorado State University. He created the weather site in 1995 as the World Wide Web was taking off. One of his prime goals was to share some of the weather plots he'd developed at CSU and RAP with the meteorological community in and beyond NCAR. The page also helps Greg satisfy his own craving for up-to-the-minute weather data. He's chased and photographed severe storms for years across the Great Plains. (Some of Greg's photos can be viewed on the Web.)

Greg's research in RAP centers on the diagnosis and prediction of aviation icing. After creating an aviation section for the RAP weather page, Greg helped put together its successor, a collaborative Web site called the Aviation Digital Data Service (click "Aviation" on Greg's page or go to Aviation Digital Dat Service).

Many other labs and universities maintain weather pages, but Greg's is a favorite among weather-savvy folks due to its promptness. Thanks to Perl software scripts that pull data directly from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Greg's page is sometimes hours ahead of other sites in providing output from the standard forecast models that are run at NCEP twice daily. He's gotten hundreds of appreciative notes from military meteorologists, NWS offices, and TV weathercasters. One fan wrote, "I've been a meteorologist for 25 years, and you have truly captured the essence of what I thought would be the right way to do this." •Bob Henson

On the Web:
Real-time Weather Data

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall