NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio Saves Lives!
Every citizen should own, or be near an active, alarm-ready Weather Radio. We know that's not always possible, and this one example is sufficient: Millions of folks work in situations where Weather Radios aren't available, but computers and mobile devices are handy.
So. Here. We. Are.
Who We Are
NOAA Weather Radio ORG is a community project of concerned Personal Weather Station owners, weather website owners, and numerous 'friends' and entities.
NOAA Weather Radio ORG is volunteer maintained and is NON-Commercial. Links to websites, for example, are generally restricted to non-commercial content that is weather related. No links are made to "social media" content. There is one 'subtle' exception. References are made to "Crushed Box Software", which donates and maintains Icecast hosting and bandwidth for a very large number of feeds. Not because they made it a condition... we insisted that CBS be acknowledged for its 'donation'. Their donation simplifies the process for providers.
Quality and Reliability
At any given moment, approximately 90% of the feeds listed will be active... invariably there are NWR transmitter issues, Internet issues, and an occasional provider error or glitch.
The feeds are monitored consistently by a group of volunteers for quality and status, and sometimes 'flagged' or temporarily disabled, if provider attention is needed.
In December 2016, (with no prior notice) it appeared that Weather Underground had abandoned the maintenance of their long-present NOAA ALL HAZARDS Weather Radio streams — and by the middle of January 2017, it was obvious. Disgusted Personal Weather Station owners and weather website operators began discussing options privately, publicly on the boards at WxForum net, and elsewhere.
With support, encouragement and suggestions from many in the PWS community, a core group quickly formed, dedicated to restoring NWR streams to the Web. The project became, and remains, a 'Community" project.
NOAA WEATHER RADIO ORG?
When the 'think tank' decided to proceed, there had been no discussion about a website "name". Then, Feb 22, 2017. the following communications appeared:
John Sacrey (Echo Valley Weather) to the group,
"Going to let you know that the domain name
noaaweatherradio.org is available currently."
Mike Sparks (Frankfort Weather US), responded:
"Actually, it isn't... I got it earlier today, supposedly!
Coincidentally! Strange how great minds work!"
John, "That's scary, Mike!!!!"
Ken True (Saratoga-Weather.org), "Really scary, I was mulling about
'noaaweatherradio.org' too, earlier today!"
So, there you have it. True Story. That's how it works with this bunch.
The early brainstorming had produced the first 'beta' page on the frankfortweather.us platform, using test MP3 tracks... One of which remains to this day, the "Look Out For Flying Pigs" (Ray Stevens' 'Hurricane') track, used as an 'ear reference' for best audio level. A handful of NWR streams were available from the 'core group'.
On Feb 22nd, the same day we acquired the domain, we were contacted by Chris Coudriet, CEO of Crushed Box Software, offering Icecast server usage, free and clear. On February 24th the (still very much 'beta') page went active on the NOAA WEATHER RADIO ORG domain, tied in with Chris, and our stream list immediately jumped to 27. ...1 day later, it hit 38! (Today, CBS remains our ONLY 'behind-the-scenes' direct service affiliate, serving a large percentage of our listed streams.)
The Spring Storm
On March 1st, Weather Underground "officially" announced the end of the NOAA Weather Radio stream service they'd abandoned almost 3 months earlier. On that day, we had 48 streams running on the site... and then it hit ...
...a 60+ day blizzard of feed submissions...
As this history is being written, there are more than 160 feeds (listed) from 150 or so providers. This includes Several Environment Canada Transmitter Streams. Of the 127 feeds that Weather Underground abruptly orphaned, we have (currently) restored over 60% to service.
...with gusty operational development!
Mike Sparks (Frankfort Weather US) was testing 'master stream player scripts', throwing them online inside prototype web pages, and frantically trying to keep the lists updated and correct under the onslaught of stream submissions and script modifications.
Tim Urberg (and others elsewhee) were explaining and developing procedures to implement Raspberry PI and RTL SDR and Darkice.
Bob Nelson (Clifton, Virginia Weather), began creating single stream, and multiple stream desktop and mobile scripts for use in Personal Weather Websites.
Nebraska— teaming with Bob was
Jerry Wilkins (Southeast Lincoln Weather)
whose NOAA Radar Image scripts provided the structure for the Audio Streams code.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Nebraska —
Doug Chappelle (Stonybrook South / chappelleweather.com) was creating an alternative method for HTML5 stream coding, and adding Google mapping for transmitter locations. (Doug was also assisting Mike in the (still) experimental Watches, Warnings, Advisories premise.)
John Sacrey (Echo Valley Weather) also working "coverage map" features, originally based on the old Weather Underground map, and helping with a zillion other things.
... the mapping gradually evolved into the Google Coverage Map seen today.
Chris Coudriet (Crushed Box Software) realized we were likely to soon push the donated Icecast Server hosting to it's limits, and moved the server to cloud VPS on April 8, giving us much more reliable and professional service with the ability to scale.
Ken True (Saratoga-Weather.org), trying valiantly to keep up with the constant changes to lists, tables, scripts, pages, concepts, and ideas, began development of the "One File To Rule Them All" utility suite.
In Arkansas and Virginia —
John and Bob were furiously trying to keep up with listing. scripts, and operational changes.
...back on the West Coast,
Ken produced an Excel Sheet of abandoned Weather Underground streams, and John, Bob, and others began a process of contacting as many as possible.
Ken was polishing "One File to Rule Them All", which soon became the operational, administrative, and monitoring backbone that was to transform NOAA Weather Radio ORG.
In the Bluegrass,
Mike successfully adapted a main player, was working behind the scenes on other site features, and obtained usage rights for the NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio Product trademark / logo. from the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA, NWS. — Authorization —
Late Spring 2017
In June, 2017, Ken implemented "One File to Rule Them All" back-end on the server, enabling a change to ONE master file to drive stream listing and status updates to website presentations. NEW PWS template scripts that sync to NOAA Weather Radio Org. were released. No longer would each script require updating manually, folks using the new templates will automatically update when the site updates.
Additionally "One File to Rule Them All" incorporates many "administrative" Quality Control scripts that enable the admin volunteers to quickly audit, and enable any quality or status flags that reflect across the entire PWS network using the 'synced' templates, alerting both provider, and user, of any actual or potential issues.
The experimental 'US Hazards" Map Stream Page became operational, through the combined efforts of Mike, Ken, and Doug, and became one of the most visited pages on the site.
Ken updated the "One File to Rule Them All" suite to update the "Hazards" player when master files updated, allowing it to present active streams only, as determined in the platform 'master files'. This eliminated an involved updating process for that page, and improved its performance and presentation.
Later in 2017,Doug Chappelle (Stonybrook South / chappelleweather.com) began developing an 'administrative' platform to objectively monitor streams for reliability and quality. This platform will supplement and support data from the subjective quality analysis enabled by 'One File Suite', as well as providing historical analysis and reliability for each stream. Under experimentation and consideration is provider access to analysis and stream performance information, and an 'opt in' email notification to providers when quality or reliability issues are suspected.
Additionally, KEN began updating the 'One File Suite' to implement the potential of Doug's "QR" platform.
The development and implementation of this 'QR Suite' is quite intensive, is ongoing, and remains "behind the scenes" as of Nov 2017.
Doug and Ken coordinated and developed the synchronization of QRA and the NWROrg servers and QRA was polished and tweaked over several months. QRA has become a valuable resource for providers, and many stream sources have good to excellent quality as a result. The system generates a daily report to subscribers, and affords real-time analysis to subscribers on demand, provides several 'administrative' resources for the team, as well as automatically updating the 'Gold Stars'.
In addition, Ken Bob, Doug & Gerry refined a Personal Weather Website script that synchronizes with NWROrg data, requires no updating by the user, and is implemented on many PWS sites.
In the Spring of 2018, one of the 'Third Party' sources for many of the streams implemented a set of new protocols and access standards, which forced NWROrg to drop 53 streams accessed through them... several of those providers have also made the streams available to NWROrg
The "All Hazards" page added a click-able, real-time map displaying all watches and warning text links by state/area for the United States'.
Brandon made available an alternate / additional Iceast Host for providers
In September, 2018... the Hosting for NWROrg moved to a new, updated server, and the website went SSL... with a few minor glitches at first, the site should now perform slightly faster than previous, depending on network conditions. As much of the data, including most of the stream audio, originates from 'Non-SSL' sources, this 'passive' mixed content will 'break the site padlock' but would normally be available through virtually all devices and typically should pose no significant security risk.
As of September 15, 2018, NWROrg was averaging over 45,000 hits per day.
Additional thanks to "vreihen" "mikev" Jim McMurry (Juneau County Weather)
This platform would not be possible without the
assistance, comments, suggestions, encouragement, offers of help, misc good vibes, etc
of the following PWS Community Members, Friends, and Third Parties.
Research and original draft by John Sacrey.
©2018 NOAA Weather Radio ORG