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The Future of Free Weather Data on the Internet

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the looks-like-rain dept.

United States 312

An anonymous reader writes "The National Weather Service wants to update a 1991 policy that limits what data it can put on the Internet. The proposed new policy makes putting free data on the Internet official. The Private Weather Sector wants NWS to provide its new digital forecasts only in specialized data formats and would like NWS to shut down new XML data feeds. Barry Myers (MS Word doc), president of Accuweather wants you to have pay before using Kweather and other similar tools. Myers is asking friends to comment against the new NWS policy by June 30. Should we have to pay twice to get weather forecasts?"

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fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541412)

linux sux

Excellent... (0, Redundant)

My_Dirty_Facist_Ass (752759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541417)

Anything that can be sold will be sold. Pay up.

Re:Excellent... (1)

velo_mike (666386) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541620)

Anything that can be sold will be sold. Pay up

Those of us who are US taxpayers have already ante'd up for it. Either take our tax money and return a service or (preferably) stop robbing me every pay period than turning around and charging me again.

It should be free (4, Insightful)

bobhagopian (681765) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541418)

Nobody should ever have to pay for a service which provides the same information as a quick look out the window does. And if they do charge something for it, the vast majority of people *will not* pay.

Re:It should be free (2, Insightful)

OneDeeTenTee (780300) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541556)

Nobody would pay for that. They'd look out the window instead.

The question is paying for quantified data from entire regions and predictions.

Our tax money is used for the collection of much of this data and that (if nothing else) ought to be freely available.

Oh, my! (-1, Troll)

SaintBucky (791975) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541419)

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me cago (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541420)

en estados unidos.

coto matamoros.

Who pays for it? (5, Insightful)

Mazem (789015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541421)

Who pays for the National Weather Service? If it is taxpayer money then setting up a pay-service on the internet seems counter-intuitive.

Re:Who pays for it? (1)

log2.0 (674840) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541498)

What if you will be going on a picnic TOMORROW and want to know if it will be raining?

Watch the news ;)

Re:Who pays for it? (2, Insightful)

Gabrill (556503) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541671)

Does the weather information come under the freedom of information act? Can that act be used to thwart this scheme?

Should we have to pay twice to get weather forecas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541425)

Should we have to pay twice to get weather forecasts?

I don't understand how anyone is paying "twice". Please explain?

And anyway, why not just start an online open source weather network? People in every city all over the country can setup temperature and weather guages in their back yard and plug them into their computer and have them send the updated information to a central open source database every few minutes. I'm sure you could find at least one person in every major city who would be willing to do this.

Re:Should we have to pay twice to get weather fore (4, Interesting)

BadDoggie (145310) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541481)

don't understand how anyone is paying "twice". Please explain?

The National Weather Service [] , a part of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), is funded by taxes. It's already been paid for. The need for accurate weather information is extremely important for the military. Because it's almost as important for civilian use, the information is made available to the public.

Pilots, farmers, businesses and municipalities need this weather information, and in the U.S., weather is almost an obsession (Weather Channel [] , anyone?) There is no national or continental weather service in Europe; private pilots have to pay for information, usually in the form of two daily faxes. This means that European pilots have to know even more about weather than their American counterparts because they must be able to predict conditions, whereas U.S. pilots can get up-to-the-minute information [] .

In a nutshell, the Private Weather Sector want to be a middleman, themselves continuing to get the information for free and then charging others for what they (the public) have already paid for.

  • Pay government (taxes) for weather information.
  • Only one private group has access to this information
  • Pay private group to give you this information
Neat, huh?

If you still don't see it, imagine "EduCorp". EduCorp cuts a deal with the local government to provide schooling for children. The locality stil pays for everything, but EduCorp acts as a middleman. Only EduCorp subscribers can send their kids to these public schools. You pay taxes for schools and then pay EuCorp for th right to send your kids there. All clear?

Re:Should we have to pay twice to get weather fore (5, Funny)

pipo (21104) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541598)

"There is no national or continental weather service in Europe; private pilots have to pay for information, usually in the form of two daily faxes. This means that European pilots have to know even more about weather than their American counterparts because they must be able to predict conditions"

Not only there is no weather service, there are in fact no weather at all - Europe hasn't evolved a climate yet, unlike the US... and of course there are no pilots or airplanes whatsoever...

HINT HINT: you are living in a psychiatric hospital

Re:Should we have to pay twice to get weather fore (4, Informative)

csteinle (68146) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541619)

There is no national or continental weather service in Europe;

What's this [] , then?

Re:Should we have to pay twice to get weather fore (3, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541621)

There is no national or continental weather service in Europe

This must definitely depend on which nation in Europe you talk about. In Denmark, DMI [] provides specialized weather reports and forecasts for aviation, shipping, and farming. DMI is a national institution and many of its services are free.

Re:Should we have to pay twice to get weather fore (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541656)

I make personal heavy use of 3 NWS sources


> weather

for local and region forecasts and severe weather predictions. It's all the same information that your local weather forecasters use anyway, and you get it up-to-the-minute. If you want to know why that 'W' sits in the corner of the screen during your favorite TV broadcast, just look it up when you want. The NWS has continually been upgrading their regional web pages, now often including storm reports, summaries, and photos.

I personally don't have a need for commercialized weather as it exists today, as it is not current, not local enough, and has too much advertising.

BTW, I'd encourage anyone interested to drop the NWS some feedback at their sites. They have, IMO been trying really hard to revamp their web pages. (Disclosure: I'm just a weather fan/nut, not employee.)

Just cancelled Accuweather Premium... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541426)

I have the Accuweather Premium Java App on my Sprint PCS Phone at 2.99 a month.

I just cancelled it.


Shut down the National Weather Service. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541427)

That way you're not forced to pay at all.

You'll also open up new opportunities for private business, free or otherwise.

Bad idea. (3, Insightful)

Minstrel Boy (787690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541457)

Here's what happens when you don't have good international cooperation for your weather service: KeS

Stop setting up strawmen. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541470)

Private companies from all over the world can cooperate just like bureacratic, inefficient government agencies.

Besides, your link [] gives a 404.

Re:Stop setting up strawmen. (5, Informative)

Minstrel Boy (787690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541519)

Darned formatting.

It's not a straw man argument. That was the greatest natural disaster (loss of life) in US history, and a significant contributing factor was that the fledgling US Weather Service didn't want to listen to the Cuban weather reports. Privatized weather companies may or may not be more willing to work and play together, but they certainly haven't shown the willingness to invest in the necessary infrastructure. Plus, in many countries private weather companies may *not* be able to cooperate, by government fiat.

Less government is generally better, but national infrastructure like weather services are a notable exception.


Re:Stop setting up strawmen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541543)

You know, most people grow out of dogmatic libertarianism soon after moving out of their parents' homes.

Re:Bad idea. (2, Funny)

howhardcanitbetocrea (671190) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541502)

How much worse can weather get than when it is raining error 404s?

Yes! (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541544)

The private industry will make our weather service better, just like Microsoft makes computing so great!

Re:Yes! (1)

CA_Jim (786327) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541580)

In Microsoft's defense, they at least created new products (Word, Excel, Access) that did not exist and add features and improvements.

The analogy would be closer to new "command line" word (rebundled VI), charging you for it, even tough both you and they could get the source free from sourceforge.

No! (was Re:Yes!) (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541672)

What is this, the Young republican Convention??

>In Microsoft's defense, they at least created new products (Word, Excel, Access) that did not exist and add features and improvements.
No they did not! Have you heard of Word Perfect? And before that, Wordstar? A brief search on Google shows you are not just wrong but utterly, totaly and completely wrong, misleading and attempting to rewrite history.

Do you by any chance work for Microsoft?

Isn't this an international issue ? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541428)

I thought that there was a considerable amount of cooperation between organisations across the world with regards to sharing data for weather forcasting ?

Surely if people start putting price tags on things, all that happens is that the service starts to ramp up in price and people consequently loose access to quality forcasting.

I know this sounds like an obvious 'Step 3 - Profit' plot, but weather forcasting is a literal matter of life and death, and shouldn't that take a priority over the more mundane fiscal aspects ?

Afer all, this is the real world.

private companies can do their own research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541430)

any private company is free to do their own weather data collection, processing and forecasts, they can sell their forecasts to whomever they like to whatever price.
I don't see they have any right to put restrictions on that information collected by anyone else though.

A replacement will not take long (2, Insightful)

TardisX (15222) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541433)

If this ever happens, I estimate it would take about 1 week for a group to appear, advocating 'open source' weather data collection, another week for some client/server software to be written, and about 3 months for effectively global weather data collection.

Re:A replacement will not take long (3, Insightful)

klmth (451037) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541512)

Look, this is not going to happen for a simple reason: the general public doesn't sit on a metric assload of various measurment instruments.

Re:A replacement will not take long (3, Insightful)

hussar (87373) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541537)

Well, as a former pilot, I would be a bit concerned about the unreported, open source sonde collecting upper air data.

As for the public not sitting on a metric buttload of weather measuring gear, they weren't sitting on a metric buttload of WiFi gear at first either. If local measurement ever went open source, I suspect you'd see a lot of measuring equipment show up on the market.

Re:A replacement will not take long (2, Informative)

jupiter909 (786596) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541611)

I would tend to agree with what you are saying. So perhaps they are shooting themselve in the foot with this preposal of theirs.

'Open Source' weather collection would give a more accurate picture of statistics. If there are a few closed weather centers with high accuracy equipment to say a few hundred thousand people contributing to and open system. The system with more people even though running with 'poorer' equipment, would give a better overview, as the results of weather statistics is that of averages so the errors get smoothed out in the end.

I know there was/is a simular type event happening for earth quake detection. A home system that many people plugged into and then each persons meter would report to some central station. So perhaps now is the time for weather to do the same.

Re:A replacement will not take long (3, Insightful)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541654)


Mod parent down.

I am a pilot who flies in the USA and in Europe. In the USA, weather information is free. In Europe, it is not. NO open source weather network has sprung up in europe. The TV news provides some information, but very very little of interest to pilots.

The thing is, given all the airports already in place who could benefit from this (that is to say, a distributed set of reporting stations), you'd think that your sort of community network would just spring up. Well, it hasn't and won't. Why? Because the competitive market has turned out to be a pretty efficient mechanism for bringing weather data to those who need it.

Should we have to pay 2x to get weather forecast? (-1)

BlackShirt (690851) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541434)


It's all about control! (-1, Troll)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541436)

As we all know, The weather forcast was developed by the military. It gives a tactical edge if we know in advance which direction the wind is blowing, how far our troops are going to be able to see. The reason it is shared is that this information is also useful for civilians.

But what happens if this country finds itself at war again!? All our enemies need to do is log onto their enemy's web site, and download the weather forecast. This gives them more resources to fighht against us.

By keeping the forecast in a proprietry format, we can control who can and cannot read the data. We can keep it out of the hands of our enemies. Wanting to make it available for free would be an act of treason.

Stupidest, most uninspired troll ever. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541441)

Back to troll boot camp for you.

Should be free. (4, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541437)

We all pay taxes (OK maybe not all of us) that support things like weather sattelites, weather baloons, remote weather stations, etc. This is where the majority of the weather data comes from, and the funding comes from taxpayers ultimately. The NWS is a government agency. They compile the data from the balloons, stations, and sattelites, and make forecasts and charts and maps and graphs. Mariners, in particular, get a lot of data from the NWS directly and indirectly.

On the other hand, Accuweather is a commercial venture designed to profit by delivering weather content to television studios and radio stations. They own no balloons nor weather stations nor sattelites. Why should we have to pay them anything? They only want to diversify their grip on the nutsack of private weather.

Offtopic, but prescient (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541506)

Solid, but for how long? []
Sep 20th 2001 | BRUSSELS

European solidarity with the United States will depend on just what a global "war" against terrorism entails

A WEEK after the terrorist atrocities in America, the talk in the European Union was all still of "solidarity". "We stand four-square with our American allies and friends," said Chris Patten, the EU's commissioner for foreign affairs, in a statement echoed by scores of politicians across the continent. Opinion polls showed that most West Europeans wanted their governments to take part in military action against terrorism, with the French almost as eager as the British (see chart). Though Germans in general are edgier, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sounded as robust as the French. [...] But the possible limits to European support for the United States are also becoming evident. [...]

It was noted with relief in Brussels and elsewhere that in the attacks' immediate aftermath, America and Iran appeared to undergo something of a small rapprochement. But it is also clear that a strong school of thought in the United States considers Iraq to be the main state promoter of terrorism. A recent book arguing that Iraq was behind the first attack on the World Trade Centre, in 1993, has won plaudits from, among others, Paul Wolfowitz, now Mr Rumsfeld's deputy at the Pentagon.

If the United States chose to attack Iraq without convincing public evidence of its involvement in the latest terror, Europe's solidarity might begin to crack. The anti-Saddam coalition that the United States built up during the Gulf war has fizzled. France dropped out of the air patrols over Iraq's "no-fly" zones in 1998, leaving Britain as America's only ally in the skies. A clutch of French MPs has visited Baghdad, Iraq's capital. France has its eyes on lucrative Iraqi oil contracts, if and when UN sanctions against Iraq are lifted. Many governments and people in the EU now think sanctions against Iraq are ineffective--and needlessly cruel to ordinary Iraqis.

If the attempt to widen the war on terrorism beyond Mr bin Laden and Afghanistan is confined to judicial and intelligence co-operation, the EU should stay enthusiastic. But broader military strikes may cause public unease, except perhaps in Britain, with its emotional and security ties to the United States. Europe's reluctance is not just to do with evidence or with fear of the humanitarian consequences of military action. For all the talk of the attack on America being "an attack on all of us", some Europeans fear that if they cleave too closely to a broad, punitive American policy, terrorist reprisals against European cities will be far more likely. Rudolf Scharping, Germany's defence minister, at first seemed to distance himself from American war talk by cautioning against the use of emotive language: "We aren't on the brink of war."

A lot of Europeans, hoping that their advice may temper what they regard as the Pentagon's wilder instincts, say that the Americans should consult them--and "co-operate" with them--more. This partly reflects some Europeans' long-standing resentment of what they see as America's high-handedness. In this view, common in Paris, Berlin and Brussels, the crisis may have a beneficial side-effect if it makes America seek more equal relations with its European allies. But members of the British government tend not to take this line. A senior British politician points out that "America considers that it has a fundamental responsibility to respond to an attack on its own soil. What action Americans take is a matter for them."

In an obscure but related story.... (0, Offtopic)

like-it-or-not (608058) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541444)

In an obscure but related story, Barry Myers admits he has received non-trivial amounts of business advice and financial assistance from the RIAA.

Ha ha. Teh funny! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541454)

Oh wait, it's not. I lied!

Re:In an obscure but related story.... (2, Insightful)

JamesTRexx (675890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541459)

Kinda obvious where he stands seeing it's an MS Word doc instead of an open format. :-P

PC weather tools (2, Informative)

dj245 (732906) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541451)

Barry Myers (MS Word doc), president of Accuweather wants you to have pay before using Kweather and other similar tools.

Are there any good non-adware PC weather tools? Being a true geek, I sometimes don't look out a window for days at a time. Besides the infamous Weatherbug [] , what else is there?

Re:PC weather tools (2, Informative)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541514)

Yes there is,

The weather module of GKrellM.

btw. could those stealing middlemen stop nagging that their stealing businessmodel stops working.
If they had setup devices of their own and had financed all self instead of piggybacking on the Government weather services that are paid by us, not them.

Re:PC weather tools (1)

Jacer (574383) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541542)

If you use trillian there are several plugins available. But being a plug in, it requires trillian pro. I'd recommend paying for it though, as it is a good app, and the staff is pretty prompt about patches whenever a gateway protocol changes.

Re:PC weather tools (2, Informative)

Dacotah (710798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541559)

I use Weather Watcher from Adware free and Spyware free, the total download is just 1.48Mb and is freeware. I liked it so much I gave him a donation. It is somewhat like Weatherbug without all the bloat and crap. KWeather for KDE would be similiar to Wx Watcher.

The Solomon solution... (5, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541456)

This is so simple... Either the weather information we pay for through our taxes is provoded to the public for free... or Accuweather can foot the entire bill for weather collection and charge whatever it see's as a fair market price for the service. I would just as happily see my tax dollars returned to me, and watch the weather on the evening news, or buy a small personal weather station.


Re:The Solomon solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541468)

The evening news gets its weather from the National Weather Service more often than not. Check out the site at and see whats there, this site is on my daily checks list and is quite useful (not to mention accurate). The system is in place, why not use it and not re-invent the wheel.

Re:The Solomon solution... (0, Redundant)

bdptcob (789266) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541486)

Or go outside...

Re:The Solomon solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541651)

You're naive if you think that they would return the money to you. All they would say is, "Oh look, our budget has increased by x dollars, let's give ourselves a raise for being such good money managers."

Free Weather Could Save Lives (5, Insightful)

miyako (632510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541458)

I think having free weather information is not only a good thing, it could save lives. I live in the midwest, where for a few months a year (tornado season), you can really be taking your ass in your hands if you don't keep up with the weather. I'm sure it's the same in other regions of the country with various other weather patterns (hurricanes in the south-east, snow storms in the north and north east).
I don't own a TV to be able to watch the weather on the local news, (thought I do have a weather radio), and for people like me, it can really be a good thing to have forwarning.
All that aside, this guy sounds like a real asshat because, while I could understand if the companies were doing any work, them wanting to make money, his complaint seems to be "Hey, don't just publish this information in a way anyone can get it for free, obfuscate it first so that we have a product to sell."
Of course, if all else fails you can easily tell the weather with just a rock and a string. First tie the rock to the string then hang it outside from a tree branch. When you want to know what the weather is outside, just look at the rock. If the rock is wet it's raining, if the rock is white it's snowing, if the rock is easy to see it's sunny, if the rock is hard to see it's cloudy. If the string is not perpendicular to the tree branch, it's windy. And if the rock is missing, tornado.

Re:Free Weather Could Save Lives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541616)

If this new ruling goes through, and you cannot recieve free information, and this results in any preventable damage to you (heck, your dog was swept up in a tornado!), then I suggest you follow the good ole American way: find a lawyer and sue Accuweather. The theory of the case would be "If they have arranged to be the sole distributor of weather information, and it wasn't delivered in a timely manner, and this resulted in the loss of your dog; they should pay..." including those wonderful psychological damages, which are impossible to estimate and pay big.

Maybe that'll teach 'em, yo?

alternatives... (1)

brokenspark (777568) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541460)

Well ok, you don't want me using data. So I am going to write a little script that grabs the data from, what you dont like that? Then f*ck off.

Do it ourselves, for ourselves (4, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541466)

It's my understanding that weather-satellite transmissions aren't encrypted and can be picked up by anyone, this certainly used to be the case.

So, write a Distributed Computing Client which downloads weather-satellite data from a handful of sat-dish-connected servers and predicts the weather. You'd need a great many clients doing the basic data-processing and a lot of higher-level nodes which collate the information, but in theory you could use weather satellites from all over the globe instead of just the ones your domestic weather service relies on... and probably build a bigger picture of the weather-system.

We slashdotters always say Data should be free, how could it be more free than if we generate it ourselves?

Re:Do it ourselves, for ourselves (1)

log2.0 (674840) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541517)

hmm, if there was a lot of processing power required for this, im sure some of us would lend our CPU cycles seti@home style :)

No thank you (2, Insightful)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541553)

So, write a Distributed Computing Client which downloads weather-satellite data from a handful of sat-dish-connected servers and predicts the weather.

I don't think so. If it were that easy then you could guarantee that it'd be being done already. You could argue for a distributed client and in some way it might be useful. But more of a priority should be figuring out how to design a system that's actually intelligent enough both to make reliable predictions and trustworthy judgement calls about the weather in the first place.

Maybe it's different where you are, but in my location (New Zealand, which is admittedly not the US at all), having weather data and being able to make useful forecasts from it are two very different things. (To be fair, it is quite turbulent and changeable weather over here for a variety of geographical reasons.)

If your local environment means that 90% of days are identical to the day before, then simply having some data might be useful.... if for no other reason than to predict a possible change of some sort probably approching. But if that's your local situation, you probably don't really need satellite data in the first place --- you could use a telephone. The reason that we have meteorologists is because it does require some education and experience to look at the maps and understand properly what's actually happening, what's likely to happen, and (just as importantly) what we still don't know.

Re:Do it ourselves, for ourselves (3, Insightful)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541658)

What makes you think weather satellite transmissions would remain unencrypted if the weather industry lobbyists succeed in preventing the NWS from providing direct free weather information over the internet? These folks have built their industry out of packaging and distributing free government data, and now that new technologies have made distribution cheap enough for the government to provide the data directly to the taxpayer, they realize the free ride is over. So do they decide to offer new value-added services to maintain their audience? No, they want to surpress the competition.

Always keep this in mind when you think about free markets: free markets are the result of an equilibrium of self-interest. No company in a market acts in the best interests of the market - their urge is always to attempt to limit the market to serve only their own interests. When each competitor's interests serve to cancel out the interests of other competitors, free markets are self-correcting and flourish. But when limiting the market is in the best interests of ALL existing competitors, those competitors will act in cooperation to suppress the free market. That's why free markets don't work in a true anarchy - because in an absolutely free market the common interest of all factors in an industry will lead to the development of a cartel, and competition will tend to be limited to a stable equilibrium (until one competitor gains an advantage that allows them to wipe out the rest of the cartel and establish a monopoly).

Won't Happen (5, Interesting)

artlu (265391) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541469)

The NWS is pretty hardup for cash right now in order to waste money on developing Internet standards. This is probably a vapor article, which won't effect any of our little applications anyway. I use "WeatherPop" for the mac. It sits in the menu bar real nice and does not annoy me, which is the most important factor ;).

GroupShares Inc. [] - A Free Online Investment Community

Do your own Weather forcast... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541471)

Why use web based Weather feeds when you can pick the data off the satellite's directly???

Connect a 137-138MHz FM communications receiver or scanner to your soundcard and get colour images directly from overhead weather satellites. You can either build your own like I did or just buy a receiver.

For an explanation try: h_how. html

and for a great tool:

Re:Do your own Weather forcast... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541535)

"Why use web based Weather feeds when you can pick the data off the satellite's directly?"

I don't have a Beowulf cluster for modeling weather patterns, you insensitive clod.

Re:Do your own Weather forcast... (4, Funny)

fastdecade (179638) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541568)

Why use web based Weather feeds when you can pick the data off the satellite's directly??

Maybe it's just me, but I could think of so many answers to that question.

Re:Do your own Weather forcast... (1)

Baricom (763970) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541586)

Why use web based Weather feeds when you can pick the data off the satellite's directly???

Because while not everybody has the money to build or buy a radio, almost everybody has access to a web browser with no additional costs.

Middlemen (4, Interesting)

The Tyro (247333) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541475)

Sounds to me as if these companies want the government to sanction their status as middleman brokers of weather information, all at the public's expense.

Sorry, but I don't agree. If I'm not mistaken, the NWS exists on public funds; the info should be public also.

Besides, weather can make an actual life-and-death difference in some scenarios... just ask any sailor or pilot. Also, how about tornado warnings and such... will you have to pay to get those as well? I'd like to see them try to extract payment for such life-saving info, and watch the avalance of negative public outcry... you'd be more popular if you kicked a puppy.

Re:Middlemen (5, Funny)

benstrange (749333) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541513)

"In order to protect the competitive nature of the privately-owned media, direct NWS participation with the radio and television media should be limited to those situations requiring urgent public action as in the case of severe or extreme weather and flooding or education and preparedness activities." [Proposed for repeal by the NWS].

I assume this means the NWS is allowed to tell people about impending doom, but nothing else. It follows, I suppose, that the proposed for repeal bit means they want to be allowed to tell people more than this. I have to admit I don't really understand the situation, not being in the US.

Besides, much simpler in England. If it's not already raining, it soon will be. Prepare accordingly.

Pointless (2, Insightful)

Enlarge Your Penis (781779) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541476)

The government collects weather data anyway-it has to, for shipping, flights, disaster prediction, military uses etc. If the taxpayer's already paying for it, why shouldn't they get it for free on the internet?

why? (1)

grahagre (459342) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541478)

man, can't the gov't just fuck off and keep the internet an internationalized space where for once the united states isn't the dominant player. don't mind me, whenever i hear about the internet becoming regulated i get pissed off. weather is weather; nuff' said.

give me a -1 and i'll blow you a new asshole, moderators. i should know i am one. ;-P

Re:why? (1)

grahagre (459342) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541485)

i was drunk when i posted this.

It's life or death (1)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541480)

Good weather data is frequently a matter of life or death in many fields, it's that simple. Restriction for commercial gain cannot be sanctioned by any government that desires to avoid the pitchforks of public fury.

In case this doesn't seem odd to you, consider your insurance options if forecast trends become a matter of "commercial in confidence" and you didn't prepare for that sudden storm, to name one example. Or, if you're a private pilot, perhaps an ultralight enthusiast, consider the expense of your hobby if you have to pay extra to make damn sure you know the density altitude at that cross-country airport. Do farmers really need another expense to add to their list to make a harvest successful?

Don't let this get a foothold, noone can afford the price.

Australia went down this path.... OS won :-) (5, Informative)

B747SP (179471) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541483)

The Austraian Bureau of Meteorology had this little dilemma with it's Weather RADAR [] product several years ago. They apparently had a very small number (as in less than 20) of customers who paid rather a lot of money for access to the service. Someone wised up and figured out that the cost of collecting the money from such a small customer base wasn't cost effective, so they opened the product to all and sundry.

It's a really really useful tool. I use it at least a couple of times a week - basically anytime the weather seems a bit sus and I need to decide if to do a bolt from the office on my bike before a storm front hits, or to wait until it passes. The last four images thing lets you get a feel for which way the weather is blowing, etc, etc.

On Tuesday nights, when the Sydney Knights [] do their Tuesday Night Ride (TNR), we're all hitting the site to see what the weather is looking like. If you ride a motorcycle and live in Sydney, Australia then you need to come on a TNR!.

Now Australia didn't seem to have the problem with the commercial weather services wanting to continue to charge customers for something that they already paid the government for... that's a whole new ball game. Still, I'm all for the gummint opening up public access to weather data in any jurisdiction - it's a really really really good thing. Let the snake oil sellers find a new flavour of snake oil - I've heard that the penis enlargement pill market is a good one.

That doesn't work in Office XP (1)

lonesome phreak (142354) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541488)

"Providing me with a carbon copy I will take it as both notification that you have sent the letter and your consent to circulate copies as might be appropriate. If you click at the end of each email address above and press the space bar, they should activate as a link."

Um, that does nothing but put a space in the hyperlink. You have to hold down ctrl then click. Opps.

Look here for a list of NWS contacts: It has a name, address, phone and email for each office.

My reply:

From: busted
"An anonymous reader writes "The National Weather Service wants to update a 1991 policy that limits what data it can put on the Internet. The proposed new policy makes putting free data on the Internet official. The Private Weather Sector wants NWS to provide its new digital forecasts only in specialized data formats and would like NWS to shut down new XML data feeds. Barry Myers (MS Word doc), president of Accuweather wants you to have pay before using Kweather and other similar tools. Myers is asking friends to comment against the new NWS policy by June 30. Should we have to pay twice to get weather forecasts?""

Re:That doesn't work in Office XP (1)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541679)

pressing space works in Office 2000, I guess they changed the feature.

"I am in favor of open-to-all weather data, on the internet, in standard formats such as XML. I am for the new proposed NWS policy, and I am against the position of Accuweather's president Barry Myers. But who cares, I'm just a citizen."

don't forget to send it to the official comments address in addition to cc'ing Mr. Friendly.

National Weather Service funding... (5, Interesting)

hadesan (664029) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541490)

We the people, pay for the National Weather Service in the form of our tax dollars (2003 $800M, 2004 $824M). "The National Weather Service provides weather, hydrologic and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and oceans." (blurb ripped from Washington [] )

I see no reason that we should have to pay for Accuweather to make a pretty graphic or the like. By opening up the data on the Internet you provide researchers, hobbyists, and tinkerers with a means to get up-to-date and accurate weather information easily as well as historical data.

NWS also talks about their Information Quality [] guidelines here - detailing their information and what is available.

Who knows maybe someone will develop a Weather@Home model which runs on the same principle as SETI@Home. It would be pretty cool to start doing climate models outside of the governments and universties Research labs...

Re:National Weather Service funding... (3, Informative)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541606)

Who knows maybe someone will develop a Weather@Home model which runs on the same principle as SETI@Home.

You mean,like these guys?

What is is the largest experiment to try and produce a forecast of the climate in the 21st century. To do this, we need people around the world to give us time on their computers - time when they have their computers switched on, but are not using them to their full capacity.

.doc as html (4, Informative)

dncsky1530 (711564) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541492)

for those who dont feel like viewing the .doc file, heres the html version []

.doc as other (1)

Zapper (68283) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541534)

For those of you who don't have the proprietary .doc viewer, there's another one here [] . ;-)

Better service needed (4, Funny)

unoengborg (209251) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541499)

As long as I can't order the weather I like where I am from these weather service companies its not worth paying for.

Free? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541500)

Should be careful about calling it a "free service". As has already been said countless times in this discussion the NWS is paid for by the tax payers with the intent serving those people. If we simply use the phrase "pre-paid service" the discussion shouldn't have any merit.

Then again comercial internet providers have claimed in court that municipal internet providers should banned because they make it harder to profiteer off those communities.

listen to ME. (1)

hangingonwords (581642) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541507)

you know what. anyone that provides a service has a RIGHT to charge ANYONE to use it. get your fucking hacker ethics outta here and save the "free information" bs for some other shit. you don't like having to pay for shit, then go invest your money, learn how to run a business in this REALITY and get your own damn forcasts.

"Hidden" Microsoft Word Document Info (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541511)

This is from BARRYMYERS-AMS-031804.doc:
Author: Tammy Zanghi
Company: AccuWeather, Inc.
Email subject: AMS Corporate Forum Presentation
Author email:
Author email display name: Barry Myers

Well, I'd pay... (1)

hussar (87373) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541527)

...if there was a proven increase in the level of accuracy of the forecasts.

If the Private Weather Service is just repackaging NWS information, then I would prefer an open source app that downloads and collates the NWS XML feed.

But, if I pay for a premium service, and then you ask me what the weather is going to be like, do I violate the EULA when I tell you to take an umbrella?

A copy & paste comment (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541550)

How about someone give us a rational, educated that comment we can copy and paste into the comment web page that supports this new proposal?

Well, let's do what he says! (2, Interesting)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541552)

I think we *definitely* need to follow Mr. Myers advice and send our comments to the email addresses he gives. Oh, and be sure to cc: him. He did ask, after all...

Chris Mattern

Pay for weather? Pshaw! (1)

Fredge (186975) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541563)

Should we have to pay twice to get weather forecasts?

[sarcasm]No, we should pay 5 times![/sarcasm]

The last time I seriously counted on for a 'prediction' it turned out totally wrong and I got rained on. I can't think of many other industries where I would still have a job if I were wrong as often as the weather forecasters are. (Insert Microsoft jab here)

This "Business Model" Already Exist (5, Informative)

aroobie (130077) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541569)

We pay for the IRS but can't do business with it on the Internet without paying a third party. This letter is simply wanting the same setup for weather companies that already exist for tax software companies. Just as a side note, I work with a good bit of weather software and I can assure you that the only data we get for free, from any source, are radar images that our doppler radar provides. Since all commercial users (I know of) already pay, this sounds like Accuweather wants individual user's cash. I have seen demos of all the major commercial weather software withiin the last 3 months (looking to upgrade our current software) including Accuweather and this may be a last ditch effort for Accuweather. Other weather software companies are showing advanced modeling, data presentation, and other features as the sellling point not what they can charge for the raw data. At least two other weather software companies did not even care where you got the raw data. I have seen one that actually used the xml data from NWS and used the no data charge as a selling point.

I agree with others here, i.e. Personal use of NWS data have already been paid for and should not fall into the IRS/3rd party software business model.

In other news... (1)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541570)

...Spyware infections on PCs has reduced by 15 percent, possibly attributed to the now potentially unusable WeatherBug "application".

Great... (1)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541572)

So, not only do they want to charge us for air, but also snow, rain, hail, sleet...

CWOP is Citizen Weather (2, Informative)

vk2tds (175334) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541576)

CWOP is the Citizen Weather Observation Programme, a part of NOAA. You can find the data on [] all about this data. The problem for the private weather industry is that all this data is freely available, and is not able to be restricted in availability thanks to the infrastructure...

With CWOP, all the data is sent to [] where anyone can retrieve the data.

Weather data is free this way, thanks to the support of Ham Radio operators internet infrastructure.

Darryl Smith, VK2TDS
Sydney. Australia

Accuweather Boycott Created (2, Informative)

whitis (310873) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541591)

An accuweather boycott has been created at Boycott City [] . However, it may take 24 hours before the boycott is officially added to the list and you can join. If you want to join, send yourself a reminder message to visit the site tomorrow.

This is my first experiment with such a system. The primary value of such an online boycott is that people can search to find out if people are boycotting a company - and why - before doing business with a company. As an added bonus, when you join a boycott it shows up on the main page thereby raising awareness.

The boycott city system itself is pretty crude and doesn't yet have a large user base.

Canadian Climate Data (2, Informative)

barks (640793) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541600)

I remember scheming and dreaming a project once upon a time and trying to look for a database that contained various dates and the weather data conditions for that day.

Found a free archive on Environment Canada [] that does just that for all of Canada.

Argument over data format, not availability (5, Insightful)

Chromal (56550) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541605)

Interestingly, we have Accu-Weather spearheading an attempt to make the data formats put out by NOAA less accessible to non-meteorologists. Much of this data is readily available in obscure meteorological data formats like the dense GRIB-format 5-dimensional GFS model output and the equally obscure METAR surface obs format (whose byzantine structure dates back to the 1940s when observations were distributed codified and via teletype).

Make no mistake about it-- all of this data is publically available via FTP, or C-band satellite downlink (aka NOAAPORT). What the leader of the industry consortium (which does not represent all meteo firms by a long shot) is apparently protesting is NOAA putting out data in a modern format that ANYONE, not just meteorologists, may be expected to work with. He is, perhaps, upset with the notion that in this day and age of realtime data exchange on the Internet, it really doesn't take a BS in meterology and a publisher like a newspaper, TV station, or radio station to get the weather from the government to the people-- his business's model, acting as an interpreter that (for a fee) translates the data produced by the National Weather Service into something the public understands-- this model of business is becoming incresingly obsolete.

Any protests about NOAA supporting new and more accessible formats is a cynical cry for business or industry protectionism, nothing more. Which is a shame-- there is plenty of room for innovation in the weather industry-- niche forecasts specialized for markets where small-scale accuracy matters (like the agricultural and power industries), or more advanced and interactive web-based tools (like The Weather Underground's NEXRAD interface) can innovate the way the public look at weather data.

Support innovation, not protectionism!

THIS JUST IN... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541607)

Bending to corporate pressure, The United States government has enstated a mandatory "horizontal blinder" initative. Any person within the United States, it's territories and occupied lands will no longer be allowed to look up or down in order to make judgements about the weather. Any limbs or joints that react to brewing storms will be confiscated.

This is fucking stupid (-1, Flamebait)

Michael Hunt (585391) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541615)

This whole dialog is fucking retarded.

Most weather stations in .au already provide data which is accessible via IP utilising some global code or other which they obtain from some aviation body (most decent weather stations are collocated at major airports.)

The fact that people are bitching and moaning about having to pay for weather data means one of two things

1. They're in aviation, and they're cheapskates
2. They're not in aviation. They can't be fucked opening the curtains and glaring at the day outside.

Either way, this is a non-issue.

Put your own WX data online. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9541625)

Get an inexpensive (but good) weather station, such as Oregon Scientific's WM-918 (aka Radio Shack's WX200), connect it to a junk-box PC running something like FreeWX ( - Win32) or WX200d ( - *nix), and upload it to a webpage, or Weather Underground ( Tens of thousands of other people are already doing this.

USSR (1)

bool morpheus() (689231) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541626)

In Soviet Russia, the weather monitors you!

Let the NOAA know you want the data to stay free.. (2, Informative)

Phil John (576633) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541628) is a link to the Word Document [] being used by the Private Weather Sector to give details about where/how to lobby to NOAA.

Instead of bemoaning the state of the public sector how about actually doing something about it and actively lobby the people in power to keep this free?

Weather Display (2, Interesting)

sobinz (702278) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541631)

I'm in the navy stationed in guam. With the exception of typhoons we have almost no (very consistant) weather. Out of boredom I rigged up a pretty neat setup. I bought a serial, text-only 4 by 20 character LCD display. I wrote a program that every 5 minutes parses to determing the description of the weather, and temperature in Bat cave NC and writes it to the display. I can watch the temperatures change with the seasons from here in guam. It also displays a continuous(10 times a second) update of my happiness factor (time in the navy divided by time remaining).
A picture of it can be found here []
Also, I put up a copy of the program [] to anybody that wants it.

Put the free NWS data on your website! (4, Informative)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541657)

Check out HAMWeather [] if you haven't already. It's been around for years and it's essentially a set of scripts which allow you to set up your own AccuWeather or -type site. It's also got a lot of other additional features like mapping and "weather sticker" creation (dynamically creating a small image with a location's name, current conditions and a little icon representing the current conditions). I've been using it for about two years and while it's not rocket science, I've found it to be a very useful, time-saving tool. The scripts are available in Perl, ASP, and PHP.

We all need free weather data (1)

SpaceKow (24359) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541664)

We all need free weather data Imagine what would happen when there is a disaster... The Big Wigs in the weather industry are just thinking about themselves.

Ok I have an answer (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541668)

Barry Myers (MS Word doc), president of Accuweather wants you to have pay before using Kweather and other similar tools.

fine. then the US government needs to increase Commercial use of NOAA weather data fees by 100 fold. Little Barry, in his childish hissy fit, fails to realize that the NOAA weather data is the property of the United States Citizens and Government... So let's appease him. Anyone want to intorduce legislation that any commercial use of NOAA data has higher fees and 20% of all profit made from said data must be paid back to help fund NOAA and other government weather research.

It's high time as americans we got off our lazy asses and start smacking around childish losers like Barry and other Company officials that while about people getting something that they pay for through taxes. do what you can to introduce new legislation to "bitch slap" these morons. if worded right it would go through in a heartbeat as it would be a new significan source of income and congresscritters can't turn their back on money.

some of the mapping companies tried this about 5 years ago with the USGS release of their tigerline data maps. they were whining that it would undermine their business and other equally stupid erasons for keeping the data OUT of the public's hands. but they still wanted the free access for themselves.


Alsee (515537) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541675)

Be sure to submit a comment through ths page. []
Here's the comment I submitted:

As a government agency, the purpose of the NOAA is to serve the public. Data which has been generated or collected using tax dollars belongs to the public and should be freely available to the public.

Information provides the greatest benefit when it is freely available and most widely utilized.

Thus far the NOAA has had a "non-compete" policy. I have no doubt the NOAA is receiving pressure from special interests to maintain that policy and to withhold data from the public. Business is a good and valuable thing when it provides the public with needed services, however the government should NOT be protecting unneeded redundant services at the direct expense and detriment of the public. The government should not be creating an artificial scarcity of information. The public should not have to pay a second time for information it has already obtained through tax dollars.


they did it a few days ago in france :( (1)

six (1673) | more than 10 years ago | (#9541680)

The assholes at the head of the current french governement decided the exact same thing ...

the french national (and publicly funded) Meteo France web site now asks you to pay if you want to know something else than the *current* weather ... They did the change a few days ago but it seems that nobody noticed here :(

this is not IMHO the kind of ideas the US should rip from the french ...
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