Weatherscan Local

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Weatherscan XL
Wxscan local logo.png
Weatherscan Local XL as seen from around May 2000 until 2003.
Manufacturer:Silicon Graphics
Hardware:SGI O2
Initial release date:July 28, 1998 (Weatherscan national feed)
Localized release date:March 31, 1999 (Weatherscan Local)
Status:Retired – Decommissioned by The Weather Channel in 2004.
Visual output:Standard definition
Available add-onsVocal Local

Weatherscan Local (also known as Weatherscan Local by The Weather Channel) was an American cable television network operated by The Weather Channel. Unlike its parent network, Weatherscan Local provided a continuous loop of local weather information, lifestyle-related tips, and, in select affiliates, traffic information, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Weatherscan Local was powered by a modified Weather Star XL unit and provided music built into the system. In 2003, an IntelliStar-based unit that would eventually become its successor was rolled out, with a simplified name, Weatherscan. By 2004, all XL based Weatherscan Local units had been replaced by IntelliStar units or decommissioned.

Pre-launch and planning

The Weather Channel first announced plans to launch a brand-new sister channel as early as March 1998 as its first ever expansion to digital cable to provide its own customized weather forecasts. At the time, The Weather Channel partnered with TCI (Tele-Communications Incorporated), which was then the largest cable company in the U.S. in 1998. TCI deployed an early digital cable service known as "HITS" ("Headend In The Sky") in mid-1998.[1] The finalized branding was not reviled until May 1998 when The Weather Channel first announced the name Weatherscan by The Weather Channel and a finalized launch date was announced for July 28, 1998.[2] Originally, Weatherscan had a nationalized feed (see below) without any local forecast inserts as the channel focused on region-by-region forecast on a series of regional maps as the development of the Weather Star XL was still ongoing until the end of 1998.[3][4] By March 28, 1999, The Weather Channel announced its first ever localized version of Weatherscan along with five additional weather services.[5]

The localized launch

The first ever localized version of Weatherscan, branded as Weatherscan Local launched on March 31, 1999. Originally, Weatherscan operated five collective services for local weather information: Weatherscan Local featured animated weather information with a complete local weather segment every two minutes; Weatherscan Radar featured a continuous Doppler radar loop, along with severe weather advisories when warranted;[6] Weatherscan Plus – which debuted on April 30, 1999 – featured activity-specific forecasts for golf, skiing, boating, beachgoing, and business and leisure travel; Weatherscan Plus Traffic – which launched on May 31, 1999 – featured the same format as Weatherscan Plus with the inclusion of traffic information; Weatherscan Espanol, which launched with Weatherscan Plus Traffic, was a Spanish-language version of Weatherscan Plus allowing regional or international weather information.

Graphics Scheme

Launch through 2000

When Weatherscan Local first launched in 1999, the graphics scheme was very similar to domestic Weather Star XL units. The background, in contrast to the midday clouds scene on domestic XLs, featured a sunset theme with orange and purple clouds on a blue-sky background. The "Weatherscan Local by The Weather Channel" logo appeared in the upper left-hand part of the screen with the time and date stacked on top of one another on the upper right-hand side of the screen. The main typeface at this time was Akzidenz-Grotesk.

A small white-to-transparent gradient banner appeared below the Weatherscan Local logo for product titles. Each product appeared in a rectangular window with a rounded top left corner, outlined in white. For the extended 3-day forecast, each day appeared in its own window. A small sub-header also appeared with location information rendered in yellow.

For map displays, the top part of the screen from the bottom of the banner and up stayed the same, with the map taking up the rest of the screen. The single radar product also showed the same radar legend found on domestic XLs.

A plain text LDL, very similar to ones found on domestic XLs, but without any weather icons, typically appeared once the 36-hour forecast segment shows up and disappears at the end of the Almanac segment before the Radar segment shows up.[7]

By the time version 2 was released later in 2000, most Weatherscan Local XL units would receive this update, but some units would still have the version 1 graphics and segments.[8]

The segments that were arranged for the two-minute product flavor line-up was similar to the main domestic broadcast version of The Weather Channel's version of Weather Star XL version 1 but looped non-stop after every two minutes.

Weatherscan Local XL version 1 product gallery

The order of segments is shown from left to right:

Order of flavor line-up:
Intro screen
Current Conditions (local conditions)
Current Conditions (latest obersvations list)
Current Conditions (regional observations map)
36 Hour Forecast (two to three pages)
Regional Forecast
Extended Forecast


Weatherscan received its second overhaul around May 2000. This overhaul marked the first time any Weatherscan units would see unique backgrounds based on the regional culture. For instance: most smaller markets and suburban areas would likely get the Neighborhood theme, major populated areas would get the Urban/City theme,[9] coastal areas would get either the Ocean East or Ocean West themes (depending on the region), and desert regions of the United States would get the Southwest theme.[10][11]

The start of each forecast loop would see a new station ID, with the logo in the top third of the screen, and optionally, the city name or location for the intro screen, plus a second screen for a message from the cable affiliate.

A slightly updated Weatherscan Local logo appeared in the banner at the upper right portion of the display. The banner, present on all products, was simply a lightly darkened rectangle taking up the top fifth of the screen, separated from the rest of the display from a small white-to-transparent gradient line. The Extended Forecast scene now contains a five-day forecast instead of a three-day forecast.

Time and date moved to the bottom right portion of the display, in another anchored darkened space at the bottom of the screen, matching up with the length of the banner at the top. The left side of this "LDL" as it was taken up by the cable affiliate's logo. Some cable affiliates, particularly Comcast, would put a white background on the far-left section of the LDL to make the logo stand out, however this was not standard. Time and temperature could temporarily be covered up by an ad crawl that would take up the length of most of the LDL.

Each different scene in a product received its own background, with a slightly raised window, blurring the background, for weather information.

The table listed below is the known images that were officially used for Weatherscan Local version 2:

Product Scene Background Background Background Background
Neighborhood Urban/City Southwest Ocean East
Up Next... n/a A hammock in the foreground, presumably in a backyard. This may have been a bridge. A canyon picture. This may have been taken at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Unknown, there is no available video recording of the "Up Next..." screen that features the Ocean East theme.
Local Forecast Current Conditions A white picket fence next to a tree. A picture of downtown San Francisco. This same exact photo was later retained on the Weatherscan IntelliStar. Another canyon picture, likely the Grand Canyon again. A sandy beach with beach dunes in the foreground.
Regional Current Conditions A front walk, with a manicured lawn on the left side. Toward the top is a mulched area with shrubbery. Next to that is the paved walk, with two steps leading out of frame. This may have been a picture of downtown New York City. Southwestern Pueblo homes and an old wagon wheel. This may have been taken in New Mexico. Another sandy beach picture, but this time, a fence is visible in the background.
36 Hour Forecast A back garden. Trees darken the background of the scene, but several types of potted plants are seen in the foreground, some of which are on a paved back patio with a step leading out of frame. Taxis caught in a traffic jam. This photo may have been taken in New York City. A sandy desert at sunset. This sandy desert photo may have even been taken outside of the U.S. Another beach picture, but with logs laying on the sand and more beach dunes in the foreground.
Extended Forecast The eaves of the roof, with white siding on the left side of the image, darkened so as to appear blue. Red roofing tiles make up the bulk of the scene with a yellow gutter beneath. A picture of a two large glass atrium buildings. This photo was taken in an unknown urban city. Another canyon photo, but this time with a creek. This may have been taken from the Grand Canyon again. Another beach photo again, this time with waves from the ocean in the background.
Almanac A back porch scene. Quite blurry, but one can make out a flowery plant on the left side of the scene, with the fence on the edge or the porch on the right side. One can barely making out a rocking chair in the background. A subway train station. This may have been taken in New York City. One last canyon photo, this photo may have been taken from Arizona. A sunset beach. This same exact photo was later retained on the Weatherscan IntelliStar.

Weatherscan Local XL version 2 theme gallery

The order of segments is shown from left to right:

Note: The "Up Next" screen for the Ocean East theme is currently unavailable as that segment was not recorded in the samples shown here. The Ocean West, Mountain East/West, and Forest themes are currently unknown as there are no available recordings that contains either one of these missing themes from the gallery.


July 28, 1998

  • Weatherscan launches but was originally available only to TCI's former "HITS" ("Headend In The Sky") digital cable service. At the time, there was no local forecast features early on and would show looping region, by region forecast maps.

March 31, 1999

  • Weatherscan Local debuts in selected markets, showing only a 2-minute-long local forecast back-to-back. The only song that was used was a two-minute cut of "TSLF-01" by Trammell Starks. (Named by TWC as "Fair Weather".) This was the first time that localized forecasts were ever used for Weatherscan.

March 31, 2000

  • The new look of Weatherscan Local begins beta testing in select markets.

May 2000

  • Weatherscan Local gets a new look. The weather icons' animation was removed (they were animated prior to this update) and are now still icons.
  • New products are added to several Weatherscan Locals nationwide, including Health, Airports, and the Spanish Forecast, among others. Some Weatherscan units have been reported to still show only the local forecast back-to-back.
  • Both Regional Conditions map and Regional Forecast maps were dropped from the product line-up.
  • The Extended Forecast expands from three days to five days.
  • The Lower Display Line (LDL) no longer displays the current conditions and would instead display the cable affiliate's sponsor logo on the left-hand side of the screen.
  • The time and date move from the top right to the bottom right-hand side of the screen.
  • The Current Conditions screen no longer shows the Dew Point, Ceiling, or Visibility readings.
  • The Radar map (now listed as "Local Doppler" in the product title) was updated to match the same look from the national broadcasts on The Weather Channel.
  • Regional Satellite and Regional Radar maps were added.
  • An entire album of Trammell Starks music is now played instead of just Fair Weather. Some Weatherscan Local machines did not receive this update until late 2002. While most cable systems had the Trammell Starks music playing in the audio, some cable systems substituted the audio with a live simulcast of a local NOAA Weather Radio station.[12]
  • Vocal Local Narration also debuts by TWC staff announcer Allen Jackson, but only two screens had narration at the time, for the Current Conditions, "your current conditions", and for the 36 Hour Forecast, "the forecast for your area." Optionally, at the discretion of the headend, a member of The Weather Channel Radio Network would narrate the forecast data.[13]
  • Most Weatherscan Local XL units would receive this update. However, some units such as the Panama City, FL unit did not receive this update until around 2003.

August 6, 2000

  • Weatherscan Local reaches its first carriage deals with Comcast.[14][15]


  • Weatherscan Local's local forecast now comes directly from The Weather Channel instead of the National Weather Service. This change occurred on Weatherscan Local earlier than the Weather Stars used on TWC.
  • Some weather icons are updated to better match with ones used on air on The Weather Channel.
  • The maximum/minimum temperature positions on the Extended Forecast are switched.
  • A Weather Bulletin page is added in the beginning of the "Your Local Forecast" segment, replacing the alerts bulletin built into the 36-hour forecast.

February 27-March 5, 2001

  • Weatherscan Local reaches carriage deals with AT&T Broadband (non-former legacy TCI areas that AT&T previously acquired in 1999) and Cox Communications cable systems.[16][17]

March 2001

  • A bug fix was applied after reports of the video freezing on the Weatherscan Local XL units. Prior to this bug fix, the problem was due to the fact that various conditions cause the SBE card to lock up which causes Deframer (software that processes text weather messages) to restart and the video to reset. After when this bug fix was deployed, the video would now display correctly on both Weatherscan Local and Weatherscan Radar units. Both units were previously affected by this problem prior to this bug fix.
  • An additional bug fix was applied for the Radar after reports of the Radar not displaying correctly.[18] This problem is due to the fact that various conditions cause the SBE driver to produce output with missing data. After the bug fix, the radar now displays correctly on Weatherscan Local and Weatherscan Radar units. Both units were previously affected by this problem prior to this bug fix.[19]

December 12, 2001

  • By late 2001, Weatherscan Local reaches even more carriage deals with Comcast, and Charter Communications and reaches 3.3 million cable subscribers by the end of the year.[20]


  • The icon captions on the current conditions and extended forecast change from uppercase to mixed case and is more detailed rather than using abbreviated captions (i.e. "Partly Cloudy" instead of "P CLOUDY").
  • The moon phase icons are updated in accordance with the domestic Weather Star XL's graphics update.

Mid-Late 2004

  • By this point, all Weatherscan XL units have been decommissioned in favor of the IntelliStar.

National feed

Weatherscan's national feed from December 2000. Former cable provider TCI was the first to offer the national feed of Weatherscan in July 1998.

When Weatherscan launched on July 28, 1998, TCI was the first cable provider to offer the channel as part of their "HITS" digital cable service. Originally, there were no local forecast inserts for Weatherscan in the early days of the channel. When Weatherscan Local debuted on March 31, 1999, the national feed of the channel continued to be broadcasted for some satellite companies (excluding DirecTV and Dish Network before 2010) and on smaller cable companies that could not afford its own Weatherscan Local XL unit. This channel featured current temperatures and the forecast for the next several days for select cities throughout the United States, as well as national and regional radar images. This channel was named simply "Weatherscan". This feed was pulled by most headends in 2001 and was discontinued by 2003 with the roll-out of the IntelliStar platform.[21]


  1. Ellis, Leslie (March 16, 1998). "TCI to Tweak and Expand HITS Lineup". Multichannel News. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved October 29, 2023. According to the survey, TCI is considering adding: a customized offering from The Weather Channel.
  2. Moss, Linda (May 24, 1998). "HITS Tinkers with Formula". Multichannel News. Archived from the original on June 18, 2021. Retrieved October 29, 2023. The new HITS lineup will include ZDTV, the computer and Internet network, as well as WeatherScan by The Weather Channel, a regional-weather service.
  3. Moss, Linda (November 22, 1998). "NBC Eyes Two Digital Nets, Including Weather". Multichannel News. Retrieved October 31, 2023. TWC is already testing, in a number of markets, two versions of a 24-hour custom local-weather network, Eckert said. And TWC's internal task force is also guiding its plans to develop local products for digital platforms, including interactive ones. The next-generation Weather Star boxes that TWC will roll out next year will provide the technology to make some of these applications easily doable, according to Eckert. TWC's digital Weatherscan, which is already up, offers national weather reports, as well as seven regional weather reports.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. Moss, Linda (November 29, 1998). "Weather Is Turbulent on Cable Front". Multichannel News. Retrieved October 29, 2023. TWC officials said that by early next year when the network's new "Weather Star" equipment is deployed they will be able to aggressively go forward with a full battery of state-of-the-art, local-weather options for cable operators.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. Moss, Linda (March 28, 1999). "Eckert Leaves Weather Channel". Multichannel News. Archived from the original on February 25, 2021. Retrieved October 29, 2023. Last year, it launched a digital weather service, WeatherScan by TWC, which is being carried by Headend in the Sky. TWC is also in the process of creating five other local-weather services, which are likely to get digital carriage, as it rolls out its next generation of "WeatherStar" technology.
  6. Dickson, Glen (June 14, 1999) [1999]. "TW weatherizes Tampa" (PDF). World Radio History. Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved October 29, 2023. The Weather Channel has developed its own local cable weather product, Weatherscan, that it markets as an additional service to its 24-hour national network. Different versions of Weatherscan can support local weather, local radar, lifestyle information, traffic updates and Spanish-language information. Weatherscan, however, is only available to a system if it already carries The Weather Channel 24 -hour network. Like the network, Weatherscan offers operators two minutes of local avails per hour. Two versions of the service one offering local forecasts and one offering local radar are being offered free to affiliates until 2002.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link) CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. "Weatherscan". YouTube. TWC Fan. Frankfort, KY. August 28, 1999. Retrieved October 29, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link) CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. "Weatherscan Local". TWC Classics. Note: At least one known Weatherscan Local XL unit in Panama City, FL did not get the version 2 update until as late as 2003 shortly before when it was replaced with the Weatherscan IntelliStar. Panama City, FL. April 19, 2001. Retrieved October 29, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link) CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. "Weatherscan Local 8/11/02". YouTube. Courtesy of WeatherSTARjr. Note: The date in the title of this video is incorrectly labeled since August 11 was on a Monday in 2003. Atlanta, GA. August 11, 2003.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link) CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "WeatherScan 12/20/01". YouTube. Note: Phoenix, AZ Weatherscan Local got the "Southwest" theme. The themes are mentioned in the official Weatherscan Local manual. Footage courtesy of Local Forecast. Phoenix, AZ. December 20, 2001.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link) CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "Weatherscan Local Product Guide" (PDF). The Weather Channel. December 1, 2000. p. 20. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 28, 2003. Retrieved October 29, 2003.
  12. "Weatherscan Local". TWCClassics. Note: The audio from this Weatherscan Local XL unit was substituted with NOAA Weather Radio station KGG66 (Panama City, FL) instead of the normal Trammell Starks background music like on most other units. Panama City, FL. April 16, 2003. Retrieved October 29, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link) CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. "Comcast adds digital tier". Multichannel News. August 6, 2000. Archived from the original on March 5, 2021. Retrieved October 29, 2023.
  15. McAdams, Deborah (August 7, 2000). "Comcast adds digital tier" (PDF). World Radio History. Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved October 29, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. Moss, Linda (February 27, 2001). "Weather Spinoff Signs AT&T, Cox". Multichannel News. Archived from the original on September 19, 2020. Retrieved October 29, 2023.
  17. Moss, Linda (March 5, 2001). "Local Weather Net Lands AT&T, Cox". Multichannel News. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved October 29, 2023.
  18. "Weatherscan Local". TWCClassics. Note that the radar had some corrupted image frames. This was likely a network issue as the Weatherscan Local XL unit tried to download the radar images from TWC's FTP server. Willow Grove, PA. November 10, 2000.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link) CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. "Weatherscan 3.01 Patch Release Notes" (PDF). March 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 29, 2003. Retrieved October 29, 2023.
  20. "Weatherscan Sub Base Up". Multichannel News. December 12, 2001. Archived from the original on January 21, 2021. Retrieved October 29, 2023.

External links

See also

  • Weather Star XL (the main domestic unit for The Weather Channel)
  • Weatherscan (the IntelliStar-based successor to Weatherscan Local)