In late 1998 - early 1999, The Weather Channel began to roll out a sophisticated take on an old concept - a computer used at each cable company to generate local forecast data and deliver it to said cable company's households.
Only now, the graphics are of superior quality.
Icons that actually move, rather than rotate through colors; fonts that match TWC broadcasts; transitions between maps; an easy to customize format for different areas of the US; and a colorful cloud wallpaper over a computer drawn solid or gradient background (as used in previous WeatherStars).
Although the flavors between the WeatherStar 4000 (versions 4/5) were setup almost identically to the WeatherStar XL version 1's, the maps themselves had some minor tune-ups: the Latest Observations changed from a 7 city text based screen to a 2 page, 8 city, icon based screen.
Cities were added, removed, or changed and zones were realigned on the regional maps, versus their layouts on the 4000, and the 36 Hour Forecast (still from the National Weather Service at the time) were now in lowercase, as opposed to the 4000, and the radar now provided 3 hours of precipitation movement history, whereas the 4000 only provided an hour and a half.
Allen Jackson's narration is added to the WeatherStar XL. For the first time in the history of the Local Forecast, current conditions information and extended forecast information is read to the viewer.
The cloud background is changed to a lighter blue cloud scheme.
The Local Forecast product title bars were redesigned, re-positioning the clock.
"weather.com" is added underneath The Weather Channel logo.
The Radar changed flavor lineup positions, now coming directly after the Current Conditions in every flavor except for the D/E/K flavors.
Late April 2002
The 36 Hour Forecast is no longer from The National Weather Service, but now from The Weather Channel. When this happened, the point size of the text on these 3 pages became smaller.
In the top 50 viewing markets, the Regional Forecast is discontinued, and replaced with the Metro Area Forecast... a 75-100 mile radius map with the forecast for the major viewing area and several of its suburbs.
The Regional Conditions map is discontinued.
A day-part forecast is added.
The 3 day Extended Forecast changes to a 7 Day Extended Forecast on most flavors.
The K Flavor's screens are changed to have the radar play directly after the Current Conditions.