McIDAS Programmer's Manual
Version 2015

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Overview of McIDAS

McIDAS (Man computer Interactive Data Access System) is a general-purpose collection of tools for acquiring, analyzing and displaying meteorological data. SSEC's McIDAS is a distributed system consisting of Unix workstations that run the ADDE (Abstract Data Distribution Environment) software to receive and process data.

McIDAS is an environment in which data is received, processed, and stored, and then distributed among multiple workstations. For example, users may be working at a McIDAS-X or McIDAS-V workstation, yet the data they are using may reside on other workstations. When users request data from a data storage machine, the request is processed and the data is sent to the user. In the McIDAS distributed system, data can also be received and processed on the same machines that store and serve it.

The McIDAS suite includes the following packages:


McIDAS-X can run as stand-alone packages using real-time data from one or more remote sites or from local sources. The ADDE (Abstract Data Distribution Environment) software is part of the core McIDAS-X package and provides a comprehensive set of application tools for managing, processing, intercomparing and merging data.

Users access and integrate various types of data by displaying images and graphics separately or combined. They can also animate current, past and forecast data displays to monitor evolving weather systems.


McIDAS-V is a free, open source, visualization and data analysis software package that is the fifth generation in SSEC's history of sophisticated McIDAS software packages. McIDAS-V displays weather satellite (including hyperspectral) and other geophysical data in 2- and 3-dimensions, and can be used to analyze and manipulate the data with its powerful mathematical functions.

McIDAS-V is built on VisAD and IDV and incorporates the functionality of McIDAS-X and HYDRA for viewing data, developing algorithms, and validating results. It includes tools for research and operational users of observational, model, and satellite data, including data from multi- and hyper-spectral sensors on both current and future satellites. It also allows automatic reprojection of both local and remote data for easy integration of different data sources and formats.


The SSEC Data Ingestor (SDI) is a hardware and software package that receives and processes satellite data on a PC workstation running a Unix operating system. SDI systems have been developed to receive and processes data from FY-2, GVAR, MTSAT, and POES satellites.

SDI saves satellite data in a format that the McIDAS-X ADDE servers can access and subsect. Any McIDAS-X function can be applied to the data, for example: enhancements, looping, overlaying other data, brightness stretching, and remapping to other projections.


The McIDAS-X Conventional Data (XCD) software package on Unix-based workstations receives and processes data from the National Weather Service Telecommunications Gateway. The data includes conventional observations, model gridded forecasts, weather summaries, international data, and local data sources.

The data arrives via satellite broadcast. This transmitted data is converted to McIDAS-X formatted files. McIDAS-X users can employ a wide array of McIDAS-X applications to interpret, change, search, and display this data.

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