WX WORX, threatnet

Has threatnet/ wx worx made the difference ?

  • Yes Threatnet has got me to a tornado that I would have missed

    Votes: 24 66.7%
  • No threatnet has not made the difference between success and failure

    Votes: 13 36.1%

  • Total voters
Who thinks that owning and using threatnet has enabled them to see a tornado that they otherwise might have missed ? It is a large investment that serves no other purpose so before I invest I was just wondering..
A valuable tool if used with common sense.

It helped me on 3/12/06 and screwed me (I screwed myself by relying on it to much) on 4/6/06. All depends on how you use it.
I agree. If you expect it to do what something like GRL3 does for you, you would be disappointed with it. If you use it for the tool it is, it has value. There seems to be a misconception that the shear markers tell you were a tornado is. While that can possible be the case, there are a lot of places you can have high sheer in storms, particularly along a gust front. So as Mickey says, you have to take it with you background knowledge of storm structure to help you interpret what your seeing there.

In 2005 everyone remembers that big storm in Kent County Texas that put down so many gorgeous tornadoes. I know there were a few more chasers than myself that were up further north in what appeared earlier to be the more favored area, and you never would have seen the storm of the day building further south visibly because of some crap storms in between....and there is no cell data out in that area. I can say 100% that day that WXWORX made the difference in seeing all those tornadoes or not. Because without data or a nowcaster, there is no way if you were further north you would have ever visually seen that building.
Like others are saying, it can help and can hurt. Wifi is nice now but can be hard to find in some areas when you need radar data. Cell phones seem to be improving with faster speeds now, so hopefully that will help. I know I was often extremely annoyed with my digital connection at 14.4 trying to load an overloaded nws page while driving. I'd get a full image like 1 of 10 times on some days. Some areas/days I'd be unable to even connect. I couldn't get crap June 11, 2004 in nw IA. XM most certainly would have helped me that day. Instead I searched out a library to see where the storms were. I probably would have seen more of the Webb tornado had I not needed to make that stop. There are a ton of days it would have helped.

Here is where it can hurt you. I'm not sure even with it I'd use it solely for radar if you can avoid it. I did that the last two years.


The above image is how it can hurt you. I didn't have it this chase(I was unable to get cell data at this point) but it still can be used to show what can get you. The above image is clearly not from XM. See that e-w line just south of those storms? I was on the west side of that nasty hook trying to chase the storm with no data(and had been trying to get to it to pass it for a while). Had I had xm going then, I can say for certain that outflow boundary would not have shown up. Visually I really had no way to tell that is what the conditions were ahead of this storm now. Had I had an image like this then I would have gotten the hell out of there right away as a storm is pretty hosed north of a new outflow boundary like that. I also had no idea the Hallam storm had fired where I left earlier lol. But I guess this is the biggest drawback to XM for radar. A lot of times you need to see outflow boundaries, not just before convection, but after. But from the other angle, it would have helped since I could have at least seen the southern beast to be. But, with just xm would I have left for it? Hmmm, hard to say. With a good radar image showing how the outflow was ahead of my storm I would have(behind it I really have no idea its like that).

It is better than nothing and nice to have, but it can bite you too. Little outflow signs like that happen all the time and tell you a whole hell of a lot about what is worth what. With xm, you just aren't going to have any idea they are there.

I do love XM's sfc though. I'd say xm helped get me Hill City June 9, 2005. I wanted to keep moving and wanted to know exactly where that boundary was. Hays had one wind direction and Russle had another, so I knew exactly how far south the portion going e-w was. I wonder how many chasers to the nw had xm running. That portion of the boundary curled to the nw and so then had the mid-level flow more crossing the boundary than anything. On a real radar you would be able to clearly see that boundary and how those storms were lifting over it over and over. On xm.....nope.
XM has definetly helped me more than it has hurt. Yes, it may be a little 'cartooney', but it is also one tool, when used correctly, I find it is more precious to me than any other tool I could ever dream of.

I've had XM for going on three years now, and I plan on keeping it for years into the future. While cell data has increased, it also still does not work everywhere on the plains. XM does have updated surface ops, and also storm tracking, which I find to be a little more reliable than in other aspects.

When I go chasing, when I want data, I want it to be there. I don't want to have to worry about "Well, are the NWS servers getting choked down?" or "Dangit, where's my cell signal! OY! The towers are overloaded!"

Some dates it has helped me:
Aug 24th 2006
Aug 5th 2006

And numerous other days I can't even remember.

However, some of my most favorite days have come without XM.

Sept 16th, 2006
Nov 5th, 2005
July 14th 2003

are the big three that jump out at me right now.

XM is just another tool. It's all in how you use these tools that will help to determine how successful you are. The way I look at it, the more tools the better.
I can't answer the poll above because this will be my first season chasing with it. Although there are a few features that I wish they could add, I feel that it atleast could be helpful in getting bits of information in wifi/library lacking areas that could really help in the decision making process.
I had to answer yes:

May 10, 2005 After-dark tornado north of York, NE
May 13, 2005 Rain-wrapped Tornado north of Benjamin, TX

I relied on it too much on May 12, 2005 chasing a small cell in Oklahoma while all the action took place in the South Plains, TX area. I wish I had had it on May 12, 2004. I would have probably punched through the rain curtain of the northern cell to get to the Harper County, KS cell.

Some Cons:

1. Mike's right about the lack of detailed visible radar features. The subtle features just don't appear.

2. The true hail core is often difficult to discern, as very heavy precip with no hail will trigger the highest color level (purple - sorry, I don't know the dB specs.)

3. The images are sometimes delayed "real-time" sinificantly. You definitely have to use your eyes for verification. Of course you should always do that anyway, but it's easy to lean back on the technology and fool yourself.

4. The equipment is expensive when considering the data you get.

5. No storm relative mean radial velocity scans. The shear markers are helpful, but only to a point. I much prefer a graphic inbound/outbound signature for location and verification.

6. The feed is a continous loop. Only the most recent data is broadcast, so several scans have to be received before any animation can be viewed. If the connection is cut off or lost, any data that is broadcast during the down time will be missing from what is stored locally, so the animation skips. And if the application is restarted, the animation sequencing usually begins all over again with the newest data.

Some Pros:

1. One-time expense for the equipment. If put to good use, it could "earn its keep", so to speak, over time. The subscription can be purchased month-to-month - no contract.

2. The data goes wherever you do - no dead zones in the plains.

3. Once receiving, the data stream is relatively quick.

4. The radar is not the only useful tool. Many suface obs can be displayed, as well as wind plots at various altitudes and echo tops for convection location.

5. T-storm and Tornado Warnings appear in real time graphically by county.

6. You can "see" the storms after dark, wherever you happen to be.

7. It becomes a safety tool when caught in a tight situation. The GPS feature allows the chaser to plot the vehicle relative to the radar imagery along with the road network. I know this feature exists on most of the other software packages, but again, the XM signal is available everywhere.

8. The above feature also allows the chaser to sometimes make better road choices when timing is tight. Delorme is great, but when you can see radar echos relative to vehicle position with user-defined distance rings and most of the important road network ahead, sometimes navigation is easier with Wx Worx.

Without Wx Worx, I have missed out on some storms, and with it, I have at times ignored my instincts and again missed out on some storms.

Bottom line: It's another tool. I certainly wouldn't REPLACE my other tools with Wx Worx, but after chasing with it for the past two years, I'd pay twice what I originally paid for it at least.
I think XM is good for getting to the storm, and especially for navigating around cells to reach the more interesting one (and for general nocturnal navigating!).

However, there is no substitute for visual recognition once you're on the storm IMO - the 1st year we had XM I spent too much time looking at it, and not enough looking out of the window!
While I don’t personally own the unit, those that I chase with do, so I have used it and seen how helpful it can be. Like Paul mentioned it is an excellent tool for getting you to a storm early as well as helping you know what storm to chase when multiple storms go up at once. My favorite feature is the tops button as often you'll know where a storm is forming long before it even begins to precip; when wifi is hard to come by the surface obs are very helpful as well for finding boundaries, backed winds, pooled moisture, ect... As for the much talked about shear feature I am pretty indifferent as once I am to the storm I can pretty much tell visually if it has much shear and if I am not at the storm and it has shear I really don’t care to know about it.
However, there is no substitute for visual recognition once you're on the storm IMO - the 1st year we had XM I spent too much time looking at it, and not enough looking out of the window!

I definitely concur. After all, it really is all about making visual observations and documentations. But when nothing is visible due to heavy precip or low-light/contrast, XM can become very helpful.