Weather Star III

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Weather Star III
WS3 Logo.png
WeatherStar III CC.png
Manufacturer:Wegener / Texscan MSI / Compuvid
Family:WeatherStar
Model Number:2400
Hardware:Proprietary
OS:Proprietary
Graphics:ASCII Text
Release Date:January 1986
Status:Retired – Decommissioned by The Weather Channel on December 31, 2004.

The Weather Star III (sometimes dubbed the Weather Star 3000 since the introduction of the 4000) is one in a series of systems from The Weather Channel that use data from satellite systems and organize it for broadcasting. Introduced in 1986, it was a major hardware upgrade over the Weather Star II. The majority of production work on the Weather Star III was done by Texscan-MS/Compuvid, which had also done work on the previous two Weather Stars.

When a Weather Star unit is hooked up at a cable headend, it receives data via baseband on a subcarrier feed. This data includes the page data (a common misconception is that actual weather data is sent to the unit over satellite), background color, and other various formatting.

Standard features

MétéoMedia STAR III, showing the 36 hour forecast in French with the Canadian appearance (circa 1989)

The Weather Star III is similar to the Weather Star Jr, but with a pixelized font that only uses capital letters (the Weather Star Jr. uses the font of the Weather Star 4000). The features include:

  • Current Conditions - Displays the current weather, winds, barometric pressure, temperature, visibility, dewpoint, heat index/wind chill, and current monthly precipitation for the local area.
  • Latest Observations - Shows the current weather, temperature, and wind speed/direction in seven nearby cities.
  • Regional Observations - Shows the current temperature and weather conditions in seven major cities in the region.
  • 36 Hour Forecast - The forecast for your area over the next 36 hours. Provided by the National Weather Service until 2002, and then by TWC from 2003 to 2004.
  • Almanac - Shows the local sunrise and sunset times for the local area, as well as the average high and low temperatures and average precipitation for the month.
  • (day of the week)'s Air Quality Forecast - Found only in Southern California. Shows the next day's forecast air quality level (Good, Unhealthy, Very Unhealthy, or Hazardous) for two to three locations on the right of the screen, with the overall Pollutant Standard Index values on the left. Data was provided by either the U.S. or California State Environmental Protection Agency. Brought over to the Weather Star 4000 and Weather Star XL for California only and then made available nationwide upon the rollout of the IntelliStar.
  • Program Bulletin - A segment that can only be found on the Weather Star III, this segment announces upcoming programs from The Weather Channel.[1][2][3]

Example:

                      ****** PROGRAM BULLETIN ******
                         WATCH TRI STATE WEATHER EVERY
                      SATURDAY AND SUNDAY AT THE TOP
                      AND BOTTOM OF THE HOUR BETWEEN
                      7AM AND 3PM......
                     *****ON THE WEATHER CHANNEL*****     
A WeatherStar III displaying the Extended Forecast product.
  • Regional Forecast - The forecast temperatures and weather conditions for seven cities in the region.
  • Travel Cities Forecast - The forecast for major cities across the United States. This segment was never discontinued on the III or the Junior.
  • Extended Forecast - A weather forecast for the next three days after a given 36-hour forecast period (when shown on a Monday, the forecast would be for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). Originally a one- to two-page, often incomprehensible paragraph directly from the National Weather Service, this was later simplified into one page with three columns.

Example:

                       SATURDAY   SUNDAY   MONDAY
                       FLURRIES   SHOWERS  CLOUDY
                       HI: 33   HI: 45    HI: 29
                       LO: 32   LO: 30    LO: 27
  • Outlook - A prediction from the National Weather Service of temperatures and precipitation over the next 30 days (above normal, average, or below normal). Discontinued in 1995 by the NWS.
  • Tides - Showed the high and low tide times for two locations, as well as local sunrise and sunset times in selected coastal areas.
  • Radar Insert - The Weather Star III had a BNC jack on the back of the unit allowing a doppler radar video feed input. The radar input (LOC VID IN) would be activated during certain sections of the local forecast (such as the Almanac), and during some commercials where a local video advertisement would normally take its place.

Until the mid-1990s, The Weather Channel also sold an optional sensor package that could be connected to a Weather Star to display weather conditions at the headend office on the LDL, including the current temperature, the highest and lowest temperatures recorded since midnight local time, relative humidity, wind speed, direction, and gusts, and current daily and monthly precipitation totals. These appear to have been very common up until the late 1980s.

Backgrounds

From 1986 to 1988, The Weather Channel would display decorative backgrounds during their local forecasts. Depending on the cable company, the Weather Star III unit would then either output only text or override the national feed and use its standard blue/purple background.[4] Occasionally, the national feed would be accidentally knocked out, in which case the STAR would go back to its purple background.[5] The Weather Channel discontinued the decorative backgrounds in 1988. At this time, the satellite forecast had not yet been created, so satellite viewers would see only the backgrounds (or a black screen) with music.

Timeline

Date Notes
1986 After several hardware upgrades, the Weather Star II is renamed the Weather Star III. The Weather Channel begins broadcasting its decorative backgrounds for the local forecast.
1988 The decorative backgrounds are discontinued.
1989 The first version of the satellite forecast, an interrupted-scrolling Travel Cities Forecast on a black background, is created.[6]
Early 1990 The Weather Star 4000 debuts on select cable systems. Also at the same time, the Weather Star III began being unofficially dubbed as the "Weather Star 3000", though its official name remains the same.
February 20, 1991 The L Flavor Local Forecast is introduced.
July 1991 Dan Chandler re-records the narration for the Weather Star III.
1992 The STAR III is discontinued in Canada as part of a major upgrade to the Weather Star 4000. It is reported that some units remained in service for several more years. The WeatherSTAR 3000 system in Timmins, Ontario was apparently used for much longer, receiving a graphical update only in 1996. Ironically they were the first to get the PMX system.
Fall 1992 Dan Chandler does one final set of narration for the Weather Star III. The 36-Hour Forecast is now narrated to have come from the National Weather Service.
Fall 1993 The Extended Forecast becomes simplified; the text forecast from the National Weather Service is replaced with a tri-column quick glance three-day forecast. The page title for the 36-hour forecast changes from "YOUR NWS FORECAST -- ZONE XXXX" to just "YOUR NWS FORECAST" on the first page.
Early 1994 The Weather Channel begins broadcasting regional commercials that can be blocked by Weather Star-generated local forecasts at lengths of 1:30 and 2:30. The STAR output overrides the commercial; those with non-narration audio would hear any commercials after the forecast.
April 1995 Dan Chandler's narration is discontinued.
November 2002 The page title for the 36-hour forecast changes from "YOUR NWS FORECAST -- ZONE XXXX" on the first page and "NAT'L WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST" on subsequent pages to "YOUR TWC FORECAST" on all three pages. This is due to The Weather Channel's discontinuation of using NOAA's text forecasts in place of The Weather Channel's own text forecasts.
December 1, 2004 The Weather Channel begins the process of discontinuing the Weather Star III, a process which would continue through the month.
December 31, 2004 The Weather Star III is fully retired.

Flavor lineups

A flavor is a certain lineup of information and forecast products.

Flavor Added Length

(Minutes and Seconds)

Segments Featured

(Original Version)

Segments Featured

(Southern California)

Modified? Discontinued
A 0:50 Current Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Latest Observations Current Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Latest Observations April 1990
B 0:50 Latest Observations, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Extended Forecast Latest Observations, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Extended Forecast, Air Quality April 1990
C 1:00 Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Regional Forecast Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Regional Forecast April 1990
D 1:00 Latest Observations, Almanac or Local Tide Information, 36 Hour Forecast, Regional Conditions Latest Observations, Almanac or Local Tide Information, 36 Hour Forecast, Regional Conditions
E 1:00 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, Latest Observations 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality, Latest Observations
F 1:00 Current Conditions, Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information Current Conditions, Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information February 1992
G 0:30 36 Hour Forecast 36 Hour Forecast 1989
H 1:00 36 Hour Forecast, Regional Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Latest Observations 36 Hour Forecast, Regional Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Latest Observations
I 0:30 Current Conditions, Regional Conditions, Regional Forecast Current Conditions, Regional Conditions, Regional Forecast 1990 1989
I 0:30 Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions December 1992
J/LL October 1987 3:00 Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Regional Forecast, Travel Cities Forecast, Extended Forecast, 30 Day Outlook Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Regional Forecast, Travel Cities Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality, 30 Day Outlook 1998
K October 1987 1:30 Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, Regional Forecast, 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, Regional Forecast, 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality June 1990 March 1989
K June 1990 1:30 Current Conditions, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Regional Forecast, 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, Latest Observations Current Conditions, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Regional Forecast, 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality, Latest Observations September 2004
L February 1991 2:00 Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, Regional Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, Regional Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality
M 2:00 Current Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, Travel Cities Forecast Current Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality, Travel Cities Forecast
N 5:00 Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Regional Forecast, Travel Cities Forecast, Extended Forecast, Current Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, 30 Day Outlook Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Regional Forecast, Travel Cities Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality, Current Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality, 30 Day Outlook 1991
O 6:00 Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Regional Forecast, Travel Cities Forecast, Extended Forecast, 30 Day Outlook, Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Regional Forecast, Travel Cities Forecast, Extended Forecast, 30 Day Outlook Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Regional Forecast, Travel Cities Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality, 30 Day Outlook, Current Conditions, Latest Observations, Regional Conditions, 36 Hour Forecast, Almanac or Local Tide Information, Regional Forecast, Travel Cities Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality, 30 Day Outlook 1988
P 1:00 Current Conditions, Almanac or Local Tide Information, 36 Hour Forecast, Regional Conditions Current Conditions, Almanac or Local Tide Information, 36 Hour Forecast, Regional Conditions April 1990
Q 0:50 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast 36 Hour Forecast, Extended Forecast, Air Quality April 1990

External links

References