Weather Star XL

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Weather Star XL
XL Logo.png
XL Current Conditions.jpg
Manufacturer:Silicon Graphics
Family:Weather Star
Hardware:SGI O2
Release date:Beta – 3Q 1998 Final – 1Q 1999
Status:Retired – Decommissioned by The Weather Channel on June 26, 2014.
Versions:1, 2 and 3
Visual output:Standard definition
Available add-onsVocal Local
Preceded By:Weather Star Jr & Weather Star 4000
Succeeded By:IntelliStar

Weather Star XL was the fifth generation of the Weather Star systems used by The Weather Channel (TWC). At its rollout in 1998, it came months after a major update to the channel's on-air presentation. The Star XL was a major leap over the much older Weather Star 4000 system, featuring advanced capabilities such as transitions, moving icons, cloud wallpaper backgrounds and reading the local forecast contents. The Weather Star XL first appeared in a beta roll out on select cable systems in November 1998[1] and appeared briefly on The Weather Channel Latin America until that channel's demise.[2]

On June 26, 2014, The Weather Channel discontinued broadcasting its analog satellite feed, thus officially retiring all Weather Star units prior to the IntelliStar, including the XL. To address the need for a low-cost replacement, The Weather Channel developed the IntelliStar 2 Jr. platform in 2013, which is capable of operating natively on both analog and digital cable systems.


The Weather Star XL is a Silicon Graphics O2 computer within a custom-built rack-mountable chassis, featuring a custom I/O board (Moosehead/TWC INTERFACE, SGI P/N: 030-1171-003) for audio, video and other relays that are essential to the XL's operation. Within the chassis, there is a separate SatScan interface to capture weather data from The Weather Channel's satellite transponder.

The O2 used a single MIPS microprocessor and was intended to be used mainly for multimedia purposes; the O2 was SGI's last attempt at a low-end workstation. The Weather Star XL utilizes the SGI IRIX Operating System with custom written software for The Weather Channel. Because of the proprietary SGI hardware and software, the Weather Star XL remains the most expensive STAR system, having a manufacturing cost of $6,500.[3] As a result of the XL's high price, many smaller cable headends retained their Weather Star 4000 or Weather Star Jr units until the IntelliStar was released, skipping the XL altogether. The Weather Star XL receives raw video data from The Weather Channel and weather statements from the National Weather Service. It sends back monitoring data to The Weather Channel.[4] Its ad crawl manager is accessible via a modem and terminal/terminal emulator.

Graphical Revisions

The Weather Star XL has received three different graphical revisions throughout its lifespan, as well as different graphics sets for Latin America units.


Date Notes
September 2001[5]
  • The Weather Channel and the Star XL receive new graphics. Some XL systems receive this upgrade in March 2002[6], and at least one XL unit only received the update partially until July 2002, intermittently losing Vocal Local and retaining the old regional forecast animation and maps.[7]
  • The date and time are repositioned to allow room for larger title bars.
  • A new cloud background is added.
  • The URL text "" is added underneath The Weather Channel's logo.
  • The maps are no longer topographical.
March 2002[8]
  • A daypart forecast and seven-day extended forecast known as the "Week Ahead" is introduced. The three-day extended forecast still displays during the 90-second forecast flavor.
  • On the one-minute flavor, the regional conditions map is replaced by the daypart forecast.
  • The radar has been repositioned from the end of the forecast to the middle, right after the current conditions. This applies to all flavors except the 60-second forecast flavor.
  • The margins on the three-day extended forecast page are widened slightly. As a result, phrases such as "Partly Cloudy" and "Mostly Cloudy" are now fit into one line as opposed to two like before this update.
  • If no wind gusts are reported at the displayed observation site, the text "none" would display in that column on the lower display line during local forecasts and national broadcasts. This no longer happens. Instead, the gust product are not shown on the LDL if no gusts are reported.
  • The watch expiration phrase for severe weather watches has been changed. For example: "SAT 0900 PM EDT" becomes "9:00 PM EDT Saturday."
  • A Pollen Levels tagging product is introduced.
  • Some glitches involving ad tags are fixed.
  • The moon icons in the Almanac are now displayed correctly for the Northern Hemisphere.
April 2002[9]
  • The forecasts on the system are now sourced from The Weather Channel, instead of the National Weather Service.
  • As a result, weather bulletins are now shown on a dedicated page. Bulletins include advisories, watches, statements, and warnings.
  • Some icons, such as "variably cloudy" and "PM clouds" are discontinued. "Partly Cloudy and Windy" and "AM Clouds/PM Sun" is slightly modified.
July 2002[10]
  • The regional conditions map, that shows the current weather conditions for the surrounding region, is discontinued.
  • In the top 30 media markets, the Regional Forecast map, which shows the forecast for select cities throughout a given region, is discontinued and is replaced by a Metro Forecast map. This shows the forecast for select cities in a given metropolitan area within a 75-100 mile radius.
April 2003[11]
  • The "AM," "PM," and "FEW" variations to the weather icons are introduced to the forecast maps; live national broadcasts also received this upgrade.
  • The "AM" and "PM" variations to the weather icons on the lower display line have been modified, and are now rendered in lower-case white text instead of the previous uppercase styling and white-to-light blue gradient. The national broadcasts, as well as, however, received this upgrade one or two months earlier.
  • The 36-hour forecast segment has been modified so it is easier to understand. Previously, if the forecast for a time period were to split into two pages (due to its length) it would split in a middle of a sentence. Now, whenever possible, it would split to two pages in between each sentence. A line break was added between each time period.
June 2003[12] On the one-minute forecast flavor, the daypart forecast and regional/metro forecast screens are replaced by a two-page text-based forecast.
September 27, 2003[13]
  • The lower display line (LDL) graphic that is shown on live national forecasts is redesigned. It changed to a black and opaque (previously translucent) display; the XL's LDL becomes the first Weather Star lower display line to display The Weather Channel's logo on the graphic.
  • During programming such as Storm Stories, more detailed information is provided on the lower display line.
August 15, 2005[14]
  • The XL gets new graphics once again, now featuring a modernized TWC logo, a sunny background, and new title bars. "" is moved from underneath the TWC logo to a new position underneath the title bar of each screen's segment.
  • During the Severe Weather Alerts in the "Weather Bulletin" page, the NOAA logo is removed, leaving only the National Weather Service text.
  • In certain areas, the narration is one second ahead, thus leaving a one-second gap after each narration.


  1. Batten, Frank (2002). The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon. Harvard Business Publishing. p. 210. ISBN 1-57851-559-9.
  2. "Latin America 1.6.4 Patch Release Notes: Weather Star XL" (PDF). The Weather Channel. July 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2003-05-25.
  3. Batten, Frank (2002). The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon. Harvard Business Publishing. p. 204. ISBN 1-57851-559-9.
  4. "Weatherscan Local by The Weather Channel: Installation and Instruction Guide" (PDF) (2nd ed. ed.). The Weather Channel. September 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-01-10. {{cite web}}: |edition= has extra text (help)
  5. "US 1.6.5 Release Notes" (PDF). The Weather Channel. September 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-31.
  6. "TWC Locals (Archived)". TWC Locals (Archived via Internet Archive). Note: At least one Weather Star XL unit from Mobile, AL still had the original version 1 graphics as late as January 18, 2002. Mobile, AL. January 18, 2002. Archived from the original on December 10, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. Abel-Lear, Charles (May 5, 2002). "TWC Classics: "Shelby Layne" by Bob Rafkin". TWC Classics. Note: The St. Paul, MN Weather Star XL unit already had most of the updated version 2 graphics and features (such as the "Daypart Forecast" and "The Week Ahead" segments) installed (after the March 2002 update), but this unit still had the version 1 map graphics as well as a leftover animated version 1 banner that was still visible before the updated version 2 still banner shows up during the "Regional Forecast" segment (see 1:12-1:21 in the video). St. Paul, MN. Retrieved December 11, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. "US 1.6.6 Release Notes: Weather Star XL" (PDF). The Weather Channel. March 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-31.
  9. "US 1.6.7 Release Notes: Weather Star XL" (PDF). The Weather Channel. April 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-31.
  10. "Domestic 1.6.8 Release Notes: Weather Star XL" (PDF). The Weather Channel. July 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-31.
  11. "Domestic 1.7.2 Release Notes: Weather Star XL" (PDF). The Weather Channel. April 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2003-12-04.
  12. "Domestic 1.7.4 Release Notes: Weather Star XL" (PDF). The Weather Channel. June 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-31.
  13. "Domestic 1.7.5 Release Notes: Weather Star XL" (PDF). The Weather Channel. September 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-31.
  14. "The Weather Channel Network 1.9.0 Release Notes: Weather Star XL" (PDF). The Weather Channel. August 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-29.

External links

  • This article was originally retrieved from the "Weather Star XL" article on Wikipedia, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License