IntelliStar is the fifth generation successor to the WeatherStar systems used by the American cable TV and satellite TV channel The Weather Channel (TWC), for inserting local forecasts and current weather information (such as the "Local on the 8s" portion of their program schedule) into TWC's programming. Like the WeatherStar, it is installed as well at the cable TV company's headend.
The IntelliStar has many enhanced features over its predecessor, the WeatherStar XL. Like all other WeatherStars, the IntelliStar receives its data over a satellite connection and over the Internet. However, unlike the rest, it has the capability to receive more complex information, more efficiently. It also has a DualFeed feature, which allows a selection of two different video feeds. In the event of inclement weather, the DualFeed option would switch from the first (network) feed, to a second (localized) feed, providing weather information to a specific STAR or network of STARs. By doing this, the specified network of STARs could be addressed with weather updates, versus the entire national network of STARs (where such information would be irrelevant).
It also has improved display graphics, dynamic radar capabilities, and improvements to the forecast-reading feature called Vocal Local (which uses TWC voiceover artist Allen Jackson's narration on TWC, Jim Cantore's narration on the HD cable version of TWC, and more simplified female narration on Weatherscan). The IntelliStar removes the 3-day extended forecast narration (as of March 20, 2008) but adds narration for the 36-hour forecasts and Weather Bulletins, and also ducking for lowering the level of the background music when playing Vocal Local files. (The Weather Star XL just cut into the music to play Vocal Local files.). HiRAD (High Resolution Aggregated Data) technology, added to the IntelliStar in 2006, allows The Weather Channel to choose any city, town, or landmark as an observation/forecast site and provide data. Occasionally, HiRAD will fail, in which case the old NWS sites are used (Only the Current Conditions, Latest Observations, and Regional/Metro products are affected significantly. on other products, only the site name changes). The IntelliStar differs in design from previous WeatherStar units, as the IntelliStar is basically a customized rack-mount Intel CPU-based PC. It runs the FreeBSD operating system, running specialized software written by The Weather Channel to make it function as an IntelliStar, but otherwise using commodity hardware of the PC platform. This was done to minimize maintenance costs, and to ease upgrading of the IntelliStar units. The previous WeatherStar units used a proprietary hardware design that hampered any hardware upgrades (the WeatherStar XL, for comparison, uses proprietary SGI hardware, and runs IRIX). TWC has contributed code to the FreeBSD development community.
- Current Conditions
The current temperature, weather conditions, wind speed and gusts (if any), barometric pressure, dewpoint, and apparent temperature in your area.
- Weather Bulletins (when a weather statement has been issued)
Shows any watches, warnings, or advisories issued for your area by the National Weather Service.
- Latest Observations
Shows the current temperature, weather conditions, and winds in eight nearby locations.
- Regional Conditions
The current temperature and weather conditions in seven to ten cities in the region.
- Metro Conditions
Basically a map based version of the Latest Observations segment, usually with one to three locations added and without the wind data.
- Regional Radar
Shows any precipitation in the area and its movement over the course of three hours.
- Local Radar (when precipitation is present)
A zoomed in radar showing the immediate metro area used when precipitation is moving through. Shows the same time frame as the Regional Radar.
- Radar/Satellite (Eastern/Central US, Alaska and Hawaii)
A visible satellite image of the region with radar data overlayed showing the movement of weather systems over the course of five hours.
- Satellite (Western US and Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands, other areas only get this if there is an approaching hurricane, or large Nor'easter)
A visible satellite image of the region showing the movement of weather systems over the course of 12 hours.
On the IntelliStar, there are two versions. Both of them show the sunrise and sunset times for the day and the next day. Version one shows moon phase data (like on the 4000 and XL). Version two shows the actual temperatures from the previous day, the record temperatures for the day (record temps. include the year they were set in), the day's average high and low temperatures, and the current monthly precipitation total for one location (like on the III and Junior). Some Intellistars use only one version, while others alternate between the two for each local forecast.
- Air Quality Forecast (select areas only)
Modified heavily from the version used on other Weather Stars. Gives one location (three in Southern California) in the (upper) left of the screen. on the right there is a graph (three in Southern California, which are smaller and flipped on their sides) with an arrow/arrows pointing to one of the colored sections (only the one that is pointed to is labelled; green: Good, yellow: Moderate, orange: Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, red: Unhealthy, maroon: Very Unhealthy). In the (lower) left of the screen, the main pollutant (ozone, fine particles...) is given instead of the overall amount of pollutants.
- Tides (coastal areas only)
Shows the day's high and low tide times for two locations in the area, as well as the day's sunrise and sunset times.
- Marine Forecast (coastal areas only)
Shows the forecast weather conditions, including winds (in knots), wave heights, and any marine warnings for area waters up to 5 miles from the coast for the day.
- Getaway Forecast
Shows the forecast for three days (including the current day) for three vacation/travel destinations in the area. It is unclear how the sites are chosen or by who (it is known that The Weather Channel doesn't pick them).
- Outdoor Activity Forecast/School Day Weather
On weekends and days area schools are out (that are known ahead of time), shows the forecast weather conditions, winds, temperature, apparent temperature, and UV index for a specific time of day (usually 5 AM/PM, 8AM/PM, or 12 AM/PM), depending on when the local forecast is shown. On school days, shows the same data for the times area schools start and let out (Ex: 8 AM and 3 PM in Cleveland, OH), depending on when the local forecast is shown.
- Daypart Forecast
The forecast weather conditions, temperature, and winds at four points in the day.
- Metro Forecast
The forecast weather conditions and temperatures for the main observation site and eight to eleven other locations in the area.
- Morning & Afternoon Commute Forecast (seen only from 8PM-12AM)
Shown back to back. Shows the forecast weather conditions and temperatures for the main observation site and eight to eleven other locations in the area during the height of the morning and evening rush hours (usually 7 AM and 5 PM).
- Regional Forecast
The forecast temperature and weather conditions for seven to ten cities in the region.
- 24-48 Hour Local Forecast
The forecast for the next 24–48 hours in your area.
- The Week Ahead/7-day extended forecast
The forecast for the next seven days (including the current day).
- Traffic Overview (select areas only)
Provided by traffic.com (TrafficPulse). A map of the major highways in the immediate metro area shaded to indicate traffic conditions (green: Clear, yellow: Moderate, red: Heavy, gray: Unavailable). Not all IntelliStars with traffic data show this product.
- Traffic Report (select areas only)
Provided by traffic.com (TrafficPulse). Displays any accidents or construction on major highways and roads in the area in order of highest to lowest impact (green: Low, yellow: Moderate, red: High). If there are none, this product does not display.
- Traffic Flow (select areas only)
Provided by traffic.com (TrafficPulse). Shows the traffic data for three of the major highways in the area (which change each local forecast). The Data shown depends on how each site is monitored. If automatic observation is used, traffic conditions are reported as descriptions similar to the ones on the Traffic Overview map (clear: No Incidents Reported, yellow: Moderate, red: Heavy. If manual observation is used, average speed (in MPH) and estimated trip time (in minutes) is shown.
- The IntelliStar hardware platform makes its debut for Weatherscan, the 24-hour weather information service by The Weather Channel.
Late summer 2003
- The domestic (i.e. used on TWC) IntelliStar begins beta testing in select markets.
- The IntelliStar goes out of beta and begins its debut in select cable headends, including Comcast headends in markets such as Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.
- Vocal Local is active for the Regional and Local Radar screens and for during the "36 Hour Forecast" segment, although it did not read the wind information and Weather Bulletin data until 3 months later. There are multiple 7-day forecast narrations, including "The Week Ahead", "Here's your 7-day outlook", "Your 7-day outlook, and "Your Week Ahead".
- DirecTV debuts the "black bar" Lower Display Line, which displays the forecast and current conditions for major cities across the U.S., and major airport delays during national segments and special programming. This is operated from an IntelliStar running specialized versions of the TWC software.
- The narration also updates to begin reading the wind information during the "36 Hour Forecast" segment and "Weather Bulletin" data from the National Weather Service.
- The gray portion of the Lower Display Line becomes slightly brighter.
- Each cable company headend's STAR ID number, previously on the upper right hand corner of the screen in The Weather Channel's hourly identification, also began displaying as "Local weather ID" on the Lower Display Line. It has been criticized because it is displayed longer than actual weather data. At first, this is displayed only on the local forecast, but later that month, it started displaying during live national broadcasts as well.
- The "Regional Forecast" map returns for STARs with the metro forecast.
- "36 Hour Forecast" is renamed "Local Forecast" when it becomes a 48-hour Local Forecast, and increased to four screens.
- The AM/PM Commute Metro Maps are introduced.
- The "School Day Weather" and "Outdoor Activity Forecast" screens are added. The "School Day Weather" screen displays only during the school year, while in the summer, the "Outdoor Activity Forecast" displays for all days of the week, including holidays.
- As a result of the addition of these screens, more screens are used in each flavor, making the duration for each screen shorter.
- The 90 second flavor is discontinued.
- The hour-by-hour forecast, referred to as "Daily Planner" is now renamed "Daypart Forecast".
- The IntelliStar begins its debut in Time Warner Cable headends.
- National sponsors have been added during the local forecast, such as Intel's Centrino technology, America Online and Dell. They are shown on the upper right hand corner for 48 seconds after the ad crawl displays. In summer 2006, an animated sponsor is added.
- Buzzing audio interference is widely reported at the beginning of the Local Forecast during the "Current Conditions" and "School Day Weather"/"Outdoor Activity Forecast" products.
- The "Local Forecast" segment sometimes is reduced to three pages, because the Vocal Local outlasts the available time for the screen.
- More cities are introduced to the Metro Forecast maps such as Lincoln/Omaha, NE.
- Vocal Local narration is changed from "Your" to "Our" in all cases.
Mid-May 2005 (April 2005 in Atlanta (beta))
- Traffic conditions from Traffic Pulse made its debut in the top media markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. It also displays the "Traffic Pulse" logo on the bottom left hand corner during the Local on the 8s intro.
- The IntelliStar received minor changes in graphics, including a sunny background to replace the cloud background, and the new The Weather Channel logo. This change was also made on Weather Star XL.
Late August 2005
- Many cities are added and removed on the metro and regional forecast maps.
- The Air Quality Forecast no longer shows the data for 2-3 cities in the forecast area. Instead, it shows the air quality for only one city. This change does not occur in southern California.
- The IntelliStar begins its debut in several Adelphia headends due to Time Warner and Comcast headends getting prepared to take over. Previously, Adelphia headends featured a mix of Weather Star 4000 and XL units.
- The "L-Bar" (aka Corner Forecast) is introduced. It displays current weather conditions and forecasts on-screen during special programming, such as Forecast Earth, Storm Stories, and It Could Happen Tomorrow. This "L-bar" is similar to the one that is used by Weatherscan and NBC Weather Plus. Products include a daypart forecast, text-based forecast, and extended forecast. A national L-bar is also commissioned and is a version of the satellite forecast.
- The "Traffic Overview" map similar to one seen on Weatherscan was added on. The narration for the "Traffic Overview" map was "Traffic Conditions around our area" and "Traffic Congestion for our area".
- From this date through January 2, 2006, Vocal Local narration for the Regional/Local Doppler Radar segment is removed.
- There is a bug in the 3-day extended forecast in which the narration reads only the temperatures on the first day and not the rest of the forecast.
- The morning and afternoon commute maps are discontinued.
- The Almanac and Getaway Forecast products are discontinued for many IntelliStar units with traffic products.
- From this date until January 19, 2006, the narration says simply "Our extended forecast" over the 3-day "Extended Forecast" segment, perhaps in response to the bug in which temperatures would not be read. This was reported as an error.
- The narration for the "Traffic Incident" and "Traffic Flow" segments is removed, leaving only one remaining narration for the "Traffic Overview" map.
- The 90 second forecast is brought back, which causes the regional forecast to be discontinued for IntelliStar units with traffic products. This also causes the text-based forecast to sometimes show only two pages instead of three or four.
- The almanac returns to IntelliStar units with traffic products.
- The morning and afternoon commute maps return after a hiatus.
- HiRAD (High Resolution Aggregated Data) technology makes its debut on the IntelliStar and weather.com. This allows TWC to choose almost any location, landmark, or neighborhood as a weather reporting station and to augment current conditions data. Only certain IntelliStars received this update during this time; however, by summer 2006, all IntelliStar units had HiRAD technology installed on them.
- If HiRAD fails, the original observation sites are used. HiRAD outages are rare and are usually related to TWC outages.
- The 90 second forecast is once again discontinued. As a result, the regional forecast map is brought back.
- A metro conditions map is added. This causes some changes made to the line-ups on the local forecast.
- Weather icons that were used on The Weather Channel since 1998 are replaced by more realistic icons. The changes were also made on DirecTV/Dish Network satellite, weather.com, national broadcast, and Weatherscan. Some IntelliStar units did not receive this update until a month or two later. Note: The "Fog" and "Windy" are only worded in the regional/metro maps.
- The radar now includes indicators for wintry precipitation. The former "light/heavy" precipitation key is changed to "rain." Entries for "mix/ice" and "snow" are added, replacing the previous time lapse bar.
- The Getaway Forecast is brought back on a regular basis to select IntelliStars with traffic products. It also causes the traffic overview map not to show for some IntelliStars with traffic products.
- The 90 second forecast is brought back, which causes the regional conditions and regional forecast to be discontinued for IntelliStars with traffic products and once again it also causes the text-based forecast to sometimes show only two pages instead of three or four.
- Select traffic maps have also been disabled due to insufficient coverage of the viewing area, including Indianapolis, Fort Worth, and Orlando. Currently, there is no set date for return.
- The Vocal Local narration is discontinued for all local forecast segments during the "prime time" hours (8:00 PM ET through 1:00 AM ET).
- The narration for the "Traffic Report" segment was brought back for certain areas only where the overview map was removed.
- The feature turning the upper text on the black bar to yellow while a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch was effective is brought back after being inactive for several months.
- The green "CLEAR" box on the traffic flow segment has been replaced with "NO INCIDENTS REPORTED."
- The radar legend becomes interactive with the precipitation. The snow and mix indicators now only display if frozen precipitation is detected.
- From this date through October 23, Vocal Local narration does not read the sky conditions; this is reported as an error.
- The narration for the "Traffic Flow" segment was brought back for certain areas only where the overview map was removed.
Late September 2007
- Some Getaway Forecast locales change. It is confirmed that in the near future, likely in late 2007 or early 2008, the IntelliStar will have sponsors for Getaway locations and the Getaway product will soon get a face lift.
- The Vocal Local prime time narration returns after a 6-month hiatus from 8:00PM–1:00AM ET.
- TWC begins using the sponsor ad insert for its own programs. Later as of mid-September 2008, it appears twice in a row.
- The IntelliStar receives its first major graphics facelift with new title bars and a new cloud background, which occurred around 3:18 am ET.
- Once again, The Vocal Local narration says the full current conditions.
- The Current Conditions product has been renamed "Now", also encompassing the Latest Observations, Regional Conditions and Metro Conditions.
- The Regional Radar and Local Radar products are renamed Regional Doppler and Local Doppler, respectively.
- The images on the School Day Forecast and Outdoor Activity Forecast have been changed.
- Graphics have been added to the 24–48 hour "Local Forecast" on the right hand side of the screen, and sound effects are added to correspond with the forecasts.
- The sliding transition was replaced with a fading transition.
- The "L-bar" Local Forecast during special programming was changed. On the bottom right hand corner, the The Weather Channel bug is replaced by the "Local on the 8s" logo.
- Any prevailing blue text on the IntelliStar was changed to black.
- On the two minute :08 and :38 flavor, the Getaway Forecast is moved between the 36/48-Hour "Local Forecast" and the "Week Ahead" on some IntelliStars (beta stage) (later for Verizon FiOS headends).
- The 3-Day Extended Forecast has been discontinued.
- Some STARs testing the beta Getaway-product location have been switched back to normal.
- STARs in the Pittsburgh and Atlanta areas begin testing a new Getaway and traffic product-locations. The Getaway moved to the very end of the local forecast, and the traffic products moved to directly after the current conditions products. As a result, the current conditions metro map has been replaced by the local observation pages at :08/:38.
Late March 2008
- The same STARs which received the traffic-placement beta on March 20, 2008 (in Pittsburgh and Atlanta) begin showing the regional forecast once again, which hasn't been seen on some IntelliStars in nearly a year. However, it is now shown after the metro maps (example sequence: Today metro > Tonight metro > Today regional). It is suspected that this is an error in the flavor.
- The "Incidents and construction impacting our area" narration returns to some IntelliStars listing the Traffic Incidents.
- The Lower Display Line (LDL) was changed. This was made due to the new HD studio at the Weather Channel, USA. The following changes have occurred:
- The background changes to blue.
- Appearing effects are added.
- The font changes from Interstate Regular to Helvetica Neue.
- Icons appear smaller.
- The scroll-down effect was implemented.
- The Time and Temperature appear together instead of inverting. (Note: The severe weather crawls remain the same)
- Monthly Precip is moved from the local forecast LDL to a new Almanac tab during national programming. Also under this tab are the day's average temperatures (new), as well as sunrise and sunset times.
- Traffic Incidents are now shown on the LDL, directly following the Traffic Flow crawl under the Traffic tab.
- Tabs are added.
- Date is missing. This was reported as an error.
- The Local Weather ID is set to appear only on the "Local On The 8s" segments. However, they appear twice in a row. This is reported as an error.
- Visibility and Ceiling readings are set to appear only during the Local on the 8s.
- The DirecTV/Dish Network Lower Display Line (LDL) Satellite display is missing. This is also reported as an error.
- The current Local Forecast design remains the same at this time.
- The Weather Bulletins background page was changed back to the darker sky blue.
- The Regional Conditions and Regional Forecast segments once again return with traffic products and are only used during 90 second flavors, except for Verizon FiOS headends.
- The LDL for weather advisories and statements remains unmodified at this time and have the same warning tone.
- The "L-Bar" forecast was discontinued. This was reported as an error.
- The drop shadow is removed from The Weather Channel logo.
- Satellite units only: The time still switches between ET, CT, MT, and PT.
- The Current Conditions/Now segment will start at the beginning of the Local on the 8's only at :08 and :38 each hour and :18 and :48 each hour for Verizon FiOS headends, marking the first occurrence of such since 1990s. The Local Observations will start at the beginning of Local on the 8's at :28 and :58 each hour instead.
- The Weather Bulletins page is now the first screen when active at :28 and :58 each hour for Verizon FiOS headends. This later appears in all domestic IntelliStars on May 18, 2009.
- The Local Radar screen doesn't appear for Verizon FiOS headends and only appears during the short 1 minute flavors. This was reported as an error.
- The Marine Forecast and Tides segments no longer appear in coastal areas for Verizon FiOS headends leaving only the Marine Forecast segments at :08 and :38 each hour. This was reported as an error.
- The Traffic Report and Traffic Flow segments no longer appear for Verizon FiOS headends and only appears during the national segments on the LDL.
- More Getaway Forecast screens are featured for Verizon FiOS headends.
Late June, 2008
- The beta flavor line-up (which switched the placement of the traffic screens) added to Pittsburgh and Atlanta IntelliStars on March 20, 2008, is removed.
- The temperature font on the LDL was increased.
- The upper part of the LDL was changed from a light-dark gray gradient to a light-dark blue gradient.
- The "Local on the 8's" bug always appears on the upper right hand corner on the DirecTV/Dish Network Satellite during Local on the 8s if there's no national sponsor appearing. This is related to the launch of DirecTV's Local on the 8s system one month later, which places a hole in the graphics display for sponsorships.
- More changes to the lower display line:
- The Local Ad Crawl and Traffic crawl text area (dark blue background) is extended to the right edge of the screen, covering up "weather.com" under the "The Weather Channel" logo.
- The spacing of the characters is expanded on the Local Ad Traffic Crawls to make the text more readable, as well as then font size increased and widened.
- The font size of the clock on the LDL is enlarged to make it more readable (and to match the size of the temperature).
- All of the traffic ‘dots’ are now the same size (in the traffic crawl).
- The drop shadow is added back on The Weather Channel logo as before.
- The LDL on DirecTV is discontinued during the "Local On The 8s" segments to make way for local forecasts by zip code fed through DirecTV receivers.
- The Weather Channel logo color on the LDL becomes green as NBC Universal begins its second Green Week as part of its "Green Is Universal" initiative - the same change occurred to all NBC-owned networks including TWC sister network Weatherscan. The change was also made to weather.com. The green logo will also be used for TWC's existing "Earth Week" and for future "Green is Universal" weeks.
- The "L-Bar" forecast was brought back for all domestic IntelliStars; however, its appearance is more coordinated with the 2006–2007 appearance than that introduced in October 2007.
- The "Incidents & construction impacting our area" narration is once again discontinued.
- The sound effects on the text-based Local Forecast product have been disabled on all domestic (TWC) IntelliStars.
- A few cities on DirecTV & Dish Network's IntelliStar LDL have been removed.
- The monthly precipitation counter on the LDL now uses HiRAD observations sites. 
- The "Local on the 8s" bug for DirecTV/Dish Network was made transparent.
- The "Local on the 8s" bug for DirecTV/Dish Network has been updated with a white background and blue-colored font.
- New flavors begin internal testing on the Atlanta and Penn Hills/suburban Pittsburgh Comcast units.
- The Now/Current Conditions product starts off the Local on the 8s only at :28 and :58 past the hour, marking the first occurrence of such since the 1990s. At :08/:38, the local observations product comes on instead only with Traffic Products. The local observations will also start off the Local on the 8's at 08/:38 each hour unless when there's precipitation in the area without Traffic Products.
- The Weather Bulletins page is now the first screen when active, preempting the Now product on :18/:48 LFs.
- More Getaway, Almanac, and Air Quality screens are featured.
- The "Local Forecast" segment is sometimes reduced to two pages at :08/:38 each hour rather than :18/:48 each hour.
- From 10am-2pm ET, a short 1 minute flavor plays at :08/:38 each hour and :18/48 each hour. At :08/:38 each hour, there's no text-based "Local Forecast".
- At :18 and :48 past the hour, Traffic Products page (where available) is now the first screen before Current Conditions/Now product appearing at 6AM and 10AM during Wake Up With Al.
- The Weather Channel IntelliStar Features
- An article on FreeBSD's role in the operation of the IntelliStar
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