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WeatherSTAR 4000 Changes

Page updated: November 2, 2016

A few weeks ago, I was looking through old files and came across several video clips that I posted here several years ago.

They showed two sets of changes made to the WeatherSTAR 4000 (herein referred to as the "4000") during the first part of 1991. I thought they were interesting enough to bring them back.

This time though, I've combined them into one post and provided some context.

Before video: February 20, 1991

The first clip shows what the 4000 looked like before the first set of changes took place.

As you can see, the layout looked very similar to the WeatherSTAR 3000 (herein referred to as the "3000"). The only real differences were the font, the logo, and the background images and colors.

Over time, a series of changes were made to the 4000 to make it more unique, and take advantage of its graphical capabilities.

I assume they started out nearly identical because the designers were rushing to get the product up and running, so that it could work with the Prime Time Tonight segment.

After video: February 20, 1991

The first two changes you probably noticed are the clock and screen titles.

The date and time were moved from the top of the ticker (or "lower third") to the top right area of the screen. And the titles on all screens were changed from uppercase to mixed case.

To make room for the date and time, the spacing of the letters in the titles was adjusted on several screens.

Some titles were also changed a bit:
  • Regional Observations became Regional Conditions
  • Your Local Forecast became Local Forecast
  • Regional Information become Almanac
  • Travel City Forecast became Travel Cities Forecast
  • Your Extended Forecast became [area name] Extended Forecast

The biggest changes were to the Extended Forecast and (now) Almanac. The Extended Forecast went from a text narrative to a three day graphical forecast.

Another thing worth noting is the addition of the area name to the Extended Forecast. These area names were custom and had to be added manually.

As a result, some viewers had their area names added quickly (ex. Atlanta in the video above on day one), while others had to wait several months (ex. Wilmington, DE getting theirs sometime in January 1992).

The other big change was to the screen previously titled "Regional Information."

Now titled "Almanac," the average high, low, and monthly precipitation were replaced with the next four moon phases.

Other than to take advantage of its graphical capabilities, I've never understood why they replaced the high, low, and precipitation data with moon phases.

I mean, aside from people interested in astronomy, is anyone tuning to The Weather Channel wondering what and when the next moon phase will be in their area?

Before video: April 17, 1991

In our second and final "before" video, we see the 4000 as it was in the previous "after" video.

One thing you may notice about this local forecast is how long it is. It was a five minute "N" flavor, which was only shown late at night.

The reason for this long local forecast was to allow the control room time to rewind the studio tape, so they could air it again.

One other thing of note is the title on the Extended Forecast screen.

You'll notice that it now says "Atlanta Metro." In the previous video, it said "ATLANTA METRO AREA."

It was actually changed three times in the span of two months.

A few days after the February changes, it was changed to "Atlanta Metro Area" (in other words, they switched it from uppercase to mixed case).

After video: April 17, 1991

The changes that debuted later that day involve the Current Conditions page.

Like the Extended Forecast in February, it was updated to take advantage of the graphical features of the 4000.

More specifically, it went from several lines of text to two columns of text with a HUGE weather icon depicting the current weather conditions.

The title was also changed from "NOW AT [city name]" to "Current Conditions." The clock and date were also added.

I'm not really sure why the weather icon was so large, but it was later scaled down to make room for more data.

Well that's it for now. I'll probably discuss more changes here in the future, so stay tuned!

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