BEHIND THE SCENES
If you think that this looks like nothing more than a room full of mainframe computers, and you may be right! Hidden in a room located separate from the operations area are the "brains" behind the computers. There are two rows of computers. The mainframe computers powering AWIPS can be seen here. The other row contains the computing power for the WSR-88D radar.
You may wonder how we receive data or transmit the products we produce. The secret lies in the satellite dish seen below. This dish lives in our "backyard" and is our data connection to the world. All data entering or leaving the Weather Service travels by satellite through the Network Control Facility (NCF) in Silver Spring, MD. The path an item takes varies slightly for depending on if it is an outgoing or incoming item. After we compose a product and send it, it travels to the River Forecast Center in Wilmington, OH, through the NCF, and then through the Telecommunications Gateway in Suitland, MD. Most incoming data comes straight from the NCF to all local Forecast Offices. Radar data and some local observations are exceptions; they too get funneled through the servicing RFC. In all cases, the data is bounced off satellites high above Earth each step of the way. Yet, data travels between us and its destination in a couple of minutes. It truly is quite remarkable to think of how far and how fast the data travels.
The dishes on the left are other communication dishes. The one on the right is used for the IFLOWS rainfall network. The one on the left is used for EMWIN, the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network. This provides weather information to county/city Emergency Managers for their decision making.
This is a picture (left) of our wind speed and direction tower. Notice that it is not the typical rotating anemometer (wind cups). This newer model uses pressure differences to determine wind speed and direction.
Here in the picture on the right is our electronic temperature sensor (left). This unit is connected to a display unit inside. This type of equipment is used by many of our volunteer coop observers. For more information on our coop program click here. On the right is our stainless steel rain gage.
Here is a picture of our Precision Digital Barometer. It can measure very small changes in atmospheric pressures.