Category Archives: Television

What do you tune into during severe weather?

I get all the news I need from the weather report. Here's where I get the weather report from.

Twitter, to chat with people who are also in their basements. The local hash tag is #miwx for severe weather. I have a list @vielmetti/weather that I follow for the news.

Weather Underground for radar and forecasts and what not. I like the classic version of the user interface, which is busy and deep and which I know well enough to navigate. The minimalist mobile version of the site is starkly unbusy and works fine even on a relatively dumb smart phone.  

SKYWARN, the local ham radio emergency weather channel. The local repeater is N8DUY, located near I-94 and M-14 in Scio Township, available at 145.150 Mhz or via the Radio Reference relay online. This is the single best source of real time news during events.

The DTE Energy outage map is good for tracking storm damage starting about 30 minutes after the storm has gone through – you start to pick up which power outages will take a long time to fix. Note in this map below from Sunday, May 29, 2011, that the storm damage near Lansing ends at the DTE boundary; that doesn't mean there isn't more storm damage, only that I don't have a map of the other.

Picture 22

Television, which we don't have for over the air reception. WDIV Channel 4 "Click On Detroit" has useful email weather alerts and a Detroit JustWeather page, and WXYZ Channel 7's #backchannel on Twitter always has good chatter from the news desk there.


AM/FM radio. Locally the best bet is WWJ "News radio 950", with traffic and weather together on the 8's; it's intended to be listened to while you are driving, and they do talk

Weather band radio, which speaks in a synthesized scary voice. There are receivers that only turn on when there is an alert in your area, but I don't have one. Details from National Weather Service Detroit about the network of weather radios in the area.

Weather facsimile. Again, never have managed to do this, but if you have the right radio you can decode faxes with weather maps on the that are broadcast over the air. Also known as WEFAX, the technology dates from the 1920s. Details if you are good at such things from National Weather Service marine forecast services.

You should be able to get real time notifications of severe weather even if you have no power, no cell tower, and no Internet; that's why you have batteries for your radio.

Related articles

Power Outage Mapping
What do you tune into during severe weather?
DTE substation fire and Ann Arbor power outage, June 28, 2012
Severe weather expected Sunday, April 15, 2012 for #annarbor area #miwx

Merge the Ann Arbor Community Television Network with the Ann Arbor District Library’s video services?

Matt Hampel has released a study of Ann Arbor's Community Television Network.  He writes about an organization that was innovative and forward-looking in the 1970s that is now running with little public oversight and with only the most tentative ways of engaging with the public through networks other than cable television.

Most notable in the whole discussion is a comparison of CTN's video archiving and online access system with a similar setup at the Ann Arbor District Library.  The library has direct access into the CTN digital network feeds, and uses off the shelf software to transcode video for delivery to cable.  Where CTN is hamstrung by a reliance on city IT staff to do technology development – an IT staff that only does necessary maintenance – the AADL has an active IT department that is doing development in support of their mission.

I'm sure that the people at CTN are doing a good job at their core mission, of teaching people how to do video production.  The system is failing where it fails because there is not a corresponding core set of priority on video distribution and access beyond their cable television franchise.  The whole system looks like it would be better off if CTN lopped off the approximately $180,000 per year they spend on City of Ann Arbor IT services and instead merged that effort into the Ann Arbor District Library's existing video efforts.  That would put both innovative production and innovative distribution under the same roof, and move citizens closer to access to public production libraries to let them be the media, not just consume it on channel 19.