2009 Site Updates

Some links and images are no longer available in our older site updates. Additionally, some information is no longer applicable.

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December 1st, 2009

Tis' the off season. Time for off season mode. Model information is now downloaded hourly. (0:00Z, 1:00Z, etc.) Recon data is now limited to four live decoders. Vortex messages and RECCO messages will not be checked and the Air Force backup product for HDOBs and dropsondes will not be checked either. This saves some processing. If something develops I will resume normal site operations.

November 29th, 2009

I have made a lot of changes to the recon system in November. Therefore, things may not work as well as they used to. The most significant visual change is that missions that only release dropsondes (and do not provide high density observations) now show an approximate path of the plane. The path is not perfect of course because the path simply connects the points between each dropsonde. (The interval between sondes can be very large.) There are other changes and additions as well. I added historical recon. Previously 2007 only had HDOB messages. I have now added all the other recon data for that year. I am also going to add other recon data over time for historically significant storms. Katrina and Andrew have been added so far. (Keep in mind that our site does not decode supplementary vortex messages. That product is no longer used. We never built a decoder for it so it does not exist in our archive for any of the historical storms.) One last major visual change is something I add manually. That is a picture of all recon missions that have taken place for a storm. It is more just for interest since the image is too cluttered to make much sense of it. It just gives an idea of the amount of recon that occurred in the storm. Keep in mind however that I create these images manually. They will likely not be created until after a storm has dissipated. It might not even occur until the end of the season. There were also a lot of little updates. Some minor fixes here and there. HDOB messages in the Google Earth file now have the time of the observation in the sidebar rather than just the OB number. This is helpful for some historic recon that had no observation numbers. There was also a lot of tweaks done in order to process historical recon. The decoder did not handle historical recon as well as I thought. It now works much better, but if anything still does not work for you, let me know.

As for the update to the model system that has been years behind schedule, it will be delayed even longer. I have a large project that I need to get started for another site I am starting and it will take a significant amount of time. (And even after many months of a ton of work it will continue to be time consuming for many years to come, but it will fund this site and all my sites for many years to come, so that makes it worth it.) The updated model system might not be ready by next year. As for the hopes of ever having an NHC error cone in Google Earth, that system will not be part of the model system. If I ever take that back up again it will be a long time from now. I gave up trying to figure out that error cone in July. And then in August when I got the bright idea to take it up again, my computer got destroyed by lightning (like just a few days later), so I think something is trying to tell me something about that product. I do want to get the updated model system out though, but I do really need to get started on this other project that will fund my sites for a long time. Maybe I will have time before next season starts to do the updated model system, but I'm not confident in that.

July 10th, 2009

Just when I fix one problem with the error cone, three more appear. I'm starting to think I will never have the NHC's error cone in Google Earth. I get so close but then it all falls apart after further testing. As is, it would work pretty good in a lot of cases. But when a storm makes a sharp turn and/or a storm gets high up in latitude, errors are very apparent. Also, cosmetic issues exist when one error circle lies within another error circle. I really don't want to release a product that has mathematical errors. I'll keep working on trying to figure it out full time, but at some point I'll just have to quit trying. I've been working on and off on the error cone for three years. It's getting old.

June 26th, 2009 - Update 2

The system wrongly displayed TD1 again today. When I tried to patch a previous error, I think I removed the code that checked for today's error. It should be fixed now.

June 26th, 2009 - Update 1

I realize that the way I am doing the NHC error cone involves a lot of coding. I wanted to include multiple versions of the cone, like a 3 and 5 day. However, the way I am coding it involves so much code. Additionally, I'm not sure how it will look with multiple polygon shapes that are supposed to be seamlessly joined with others. The way I was going to do the cone was by taking many polygon segments and displaying them all so that it looked like a single cone. I think I might go back and try what I wanted to do originally, draw the cone so that it is simply one polygon. While the way I am doing it will look fine far away, if you got extremely close to where some of the polygons meet, you would probably see some areas not covered and I would prefer not to have it like that. With that in mind, I have decided to try to do one more mathematical formula to calculate intersecting lines when a cone turns. If I can't figure that out, I realized I can do what I was going to do in a way that will use less code and not have as much of the problem I mentioned. (Additionally, what I would be able to do is by default have the three day cone shown and have an option to display the next polygon which would be of the 4 and 5 day part of the cone, meaning I would not need to repeat the cone for the 0 to 3 day again.) I'll see how it all works in the next few weeks. I have not yet tested the equations I found to calculate the intersection of two lines. I think I might need to find an easier equation, because the one I found is massively long.

June 11th, 2009

I have finally completed the project I was working on for a client's site. Now it is back to working on the Tropical Atlantic site. I have no idea when I will finish the new model / NHC advisory system. I am just now revisiting trying to do the NHC's error cone in Google Earth. I stopped working on it on August 27, 2008 just when I think I finally figured out how to do it. Now I can see if the idea I had works! Now I just need to find what that idea was. I wrote it down somewhere, lol. Just kidding, I know where it is. (Although it took some time finding where it was on my computer. Windows Vista has a terrible built in search engine.) I keep a text file in every folder I am working on that has everything that needs to be done and my ideas on how to accomplish each particular task. So, I'll start working on the error cone immediately. If that does finally work I will begin to integrate all the scripts together into a bigger management system that will never delete model data. That is going to take a lot of time though. I'm not sure if I'll have it live this year. I will probably be testing it with real storms, but I don't know at what point I will let other people see the alpha product.

April 26th, 2009

Our site has once again resumed off season operations. All systems are working at the moment. I am currently on the same host I was. They told me what to do to solve the problem so that it should not occur again. However, it could still break at any time. During the busy part of the season I will consider signing up for a VPS for a few months to make sure that at least one data source will be available to handle heavy traffic load.

April 23rd, 2009

I have asked a lot of different hosts about whether they can host this site and none will host it on shared hosting. My current host got tired of this site I think, so that is why the site is not currently updating. (It is not able to contact another site to get data.) A virtual private server (VPS) is a lot of money and I don't know much about it, but I have no choice but to get one. In mid May I will have time to make the move. To save money, I will likely shut down the model and recon system during off seasons and only signup for a VPS during the hurricane season. The rest of the year I will move the site to a shared hosting account. I will probably keep a shared hosting account all year that way I only have to move the Tropical Atlantic site each year. I will likely be getting at least $900 this year from managing some things for my neighborhood, so that will definitely help. All that will be going into a bank account I setup for Hollis Innovations. If I didn't have that money coming in, I'm not exactly sure what I would do. (I am getting paid $100 a month and started getting paid the first of the month, starting on April 1, 2009 for the month of March, which is the reason I have been busy.) That will help pay for several years. Hopefully I will continue to be paid past November, but that is when a new board would take over and I'm not sure if they would continue my services. It is possible that as a result of the increased costs I might have to put advertising on the site in the future. I will never charge any money for the data, so you don't need to worry about that. I just need to make sure I know where I am going to get about $30 a month if my neighborhood no longer pays for my services.

April 17th, 2009

Tropical Atlantic is "@TropicalATL" on Twitter. If the site goes down, I will use Twitter to provide outage updates and when I can to process data on my own computer and link to it from the Twitter feed. I have also have some other ideas for the feed for next year.