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McIDAS-X User Information
About New NWS Radar Products

This page contains McIDAS-X user information about new National Weather Service WSR-88D (Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler) and TDWR (Terminal Doppler Weather Radar) products available on NOAAPORT. McIDAS-XCD administrators looking for information about configuring their -XCD systems to decode and serve the data should go to the McIDAS-XCD Administrator Information page.

The Overview section below contains information about the products and related announcements from the National Weather Service. The Using the New Products in McIDAS-X section below contains information about the McIDAS-XCD dataset names and McIDAS-X software changes to make displaying the data easier.


Since Feburary 2010, the National Weather Service has been distributing higher resolution WSR-88D and TDWR radar products via the SBN (Satellite Broadcast Network), RPCCDS (Radar Product Central Collection Dissemination Service ) and NOAAPORT. Ten of the new products are essentially higher resolution versions of older NEXRAD products that have been available on NOAAPORT (and in McIDAS) since January 2001. Seven of the ten older products are scheduled to be sunset (no longer diseminated) on 12 January 2011; the other three will be retained until Feburary 2012.

The initial announcement of the new WSR-88D products and those being replaced are in NWS TIN09-41. A more detailed listing of both the WSR-88D and TDWR products is in the NWS Radar Products page. Finally, the revised sunset dates for the lower-resolution products is in NWS TIN09-41, 28 Sep 2010 Amendment. Note that the amendment indicates that seven of the ten low-res products (with WMO headers N1R, N2R, N3R, N0W, N1V, N2V, N3V) will be sunset on 12 Jan 2011, and due to customer feedback the other three low-res products (N0R, N0Z, N0V) will be retained until February 2012.

The McIDAS updates to support the 41 new WSR-88D and TDWR products include new datasets in the new McIDAS-XCD release (version 2010.1, Dec 2010), as well as McIDAS-X 2010.2 (Dec 2010) updates to the radar servers, new image enhancements (for the EU command), and IMGDISP.CORE additions that make it easy to display the new datasets with the appropriate enhancement, maps and color bar. The section below (Using the New Products in McIDAS-X) contains more detailed information.

Using the New Products in McIDAS-X

To use the new radar products, you will need to become familiar with the new datasets, new image enhancements, WSR-88D and TDWR stations in the station database file (STNDB.CORE), and the IMGDISP.CORE file's predefined products for use in the IMGDISP command. The four bullets below contain additional information about each of those topics.

  • In order to access the new WSR-88D and TDWR data, the McIDAS-X user's data provider must have a server running McIDAS-XCD 2010.1. Assuming the -XCD administrator uses the default dataset names, users can access the data by three different dataset groups: group TDWR for the TDWR data (15 datasets, e.g., TDWR/BREF1), group WSR for the WSR-88D data (26 datasets, e.g., WSR/BVEL3), and group RADAR for both the TDWR and WSR-88D data (41 datasets, e.g., RADAR/TDWR-BREF1 and RADAR/WSR-BVEL3). Although it is essentially a duplicate of the TDWR and WSR groups, the RADAR group was created because its name is easy to remember and makes it simple for a user to check what radar data is available on the server (by running the command DSINFO I RADAR). Nevertheless, regular users of radar data will likely prefer to use the data in groups TDWR and WSR in their everyday use because their dataset names are significantly shorter than those in group RADAR.
  • New image enhancement files (*.ET) have been provided in McIDAS-X 2010.2 for the 41 new WSR-88D and TDWR products. To make it easy to figure out which enhancements go with which products, the new enhancements follow the same naming convention as the dataset names. For example, the enhancement named WSR-CREF was created for images in the RADAR/WSR-CREF or WSR/CREF dataset and the enhancement named TDWR-TOPS was created for images in the RADAR/TDWR-TOPS or TDWR/TOPS dataset. The enhancement names exactly match the dataset names when there's a single product (like those previous examples). When there are multiple related products, a single enhancement file is created for each set. Thus, the enhancement TDWR-BREF was created for images in the TDWR/BREF1 to TDWR/BREF3 datasets, TDWR-BVEL was created for images in the TDWR/BVEL1 to TDWR/BVEL3 datasets, TDWR-PCP was created for images in the TDWR/PCP1 and TDWR/PCPT datasets, WSR-BREF was created for images in the WSR/BREF1 to WSR/BREF6 datasets, WSR-BVEL was created for images in the WSR/BVEL1 to WSR/BVEL6 datasets, WSR-PCP was created for images in the WSR/PCP1 and WSR/PCPT datasets, and WSR-SRVEL was created for images in the WSR/SRVEL1 to WSR/SRVEL6 datasets.
  • When accessing radar data, you must specify a valid station ID (via the ID= keyword in the IMG* commands) for the particular type of data (TDWR or WSR-88D). In McIDAS-X 2010.1 (May 2010) the station database (STNDB.CORE) was updated to include 45 TDWR stations in addition to the 155 WSR-88D stations already in the file. Use the STNLIST command with TYPE=N to list radar stations; ones with TDWR in their description are TDWR stations; all others are WSR-88D. Another way to list the stations available is to use IMGLIST with ID=LIST. For example, IMGLIST TDWR/BREF1 ID=LIST (or IMGLIST RADAR/TDWR-BREF1 ID=LIST) lists the available TDWR stations, with the date and time of each station's most recent BREF1 image. Likewise, IMGLIST WSR/PCPT ID=LIST (or IMGLIST RADAR/WSR-PCPT ID=LIST) lists the available WSR-88D stations, with the date and time of each station's most recent PCPT image.
  • The IMGDISP.CORE file was updated in McIDAS-X 2010.2 to include three new predefined products for each of the 41 new WSR-88D and TDWR products (for a total of 123 new predefined products in the file). For example, the following excerpt shows the three new predefined products for the TDWR Base Reflectivity Tilt 1 product (in datasets RADAR/TDWR-BREF1 and TDWR/BREF1):
                REFRESH='BAR (IMA) GRA=(GRA); \
                EU MAKE 1 1 50 50 50 50 50 50 (IMA) (IMA); \
                EU MAKE 2 2 WHITE WHITE (IMA) (IMA); \
                EU MAKE 3 3 BLACK BLACK (IMA) (IMA); \
                MAP X -8 DASH=1 X 4 COUNTY=ALL GRA=(GRA) IMA=(IMA); \
                MAP X  7 GRA=(GRA) IMA=(IMA); \
                FRMLABEL LEV=2 3 IMA=(IMA) \
                "(ID) TDWR - BASE REFLECTIVITY - TILT 1 AT (HHMM) ON (DAY)'
    The first two predefined products (RADAR/TDWR-BREF1 and TDWR/BREF1) are basic ones that load the appropriate enhancement and contain the keyword REQUIRE=ID to tell the user they must specify a station ID with the ID= keyword. The third predefined product (MKE_BREF1) defaults to the Milwaukee radar site (ID=MKE, which you can override by specifying a different value for ID= in the command line) and has much more sophisticated keyword settings that set a MAG= value to display the entire image in a 480x640 frame, display a color bar, change the image background to a dark gray, draw a map with counties in dashed lines and states in solid lines, plot the ID of all FOUS stations in the image domain and write a more informative label on the bottom of the frame.

    One additional change in IMGDISP.CORE was to rename the predefined products that access the previous dataset names (those in group NEXRAD, e.g., NEXRAD/BREF1 and NEXRAD/PRECIPTOT) from MKX_* to OLD_*. For example, the name of the predefined product that accesses the "old" dataset NEXRAD/BVEL1 (which is being replaced by RADAR/WSR-BVEL1 and WSR/BVEL1) was changed from MKX_BVEL1 to OLD_BVEL1. This was done to allow the previous predefined product names, like MKX_BREF1, MKX_BVEL1 and MKX_TOPS, to work with the new datasets, while also allowing users who access older servers (with the older datasets) to continue to use that data (via the OLD_* products). This and other information is contained in the remarks within IMGDISP.CORE; you can view it with a text editor or run command SEE IMGDISP.CORE NLINES=ALL to list its contents in your McIDAS-X session.

    As before, users can change the settings of the products in IMGDISP.CORE and/or create their own products (whether radar or other image types) by copying IMGDISP.CORE to their $HOME/mcidas/data or another MCPATH directory, renaming it to IMGDISP.USER, then editing the existing products and/or adding new ones. (As with other command context files, IMGDISP.USER overrides IMGDISP.SITE, which overrides IMGDISP.CORE.) Also, users can override a keyword setting in a predefined product by specifying the keyword (with the desired value) in the command line, and can add keywords that aren't part of the product definition by specifying them in the command line.