I've always found geographic visualizations of surface/mixed-layer CAPE models and other weather data to be incredibly interesting.

Here's a map featured by the Capital Weather Gang over at the Washington Post, during the June 12-13, 2013 derecho series in the Ohio Valley/Chesapeake Bay regions. It was created by WeatherBELL, which is a subscription service offering visualizations based on their proprietary technology.

Here's another map featured on the blog of Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. This is an internal UW WRF model that is GFS-initialized.

I would like to know how I can take archived GFS or WRF data and visualize it on a map. Or even if that's possible (perhaps archived numerical data is only available to paid subscribers). What I would like to do is plot surface and upper-air readings to better understand the mesoscale setups for thunderstorms in the Pacific Northwest, where I live.


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The best model archive I know of offhand is Iowa State Meteorology's Gempak model data in their MTArchive. Looks like model-wise, they have at least 10 years of GFS (and the predecessor, the AVN). No idea if the models are complete files (include CAPE) or not, though.

Gempak software is free, though you won't get graphics nearly as polished as WxBell; they've spent a lot of time fine tuning their setup, and likely use newer more flexible tools (probably GrADS or OpenGrADS, both also free). You could probably get GrADS to use the .gem files, perhaps by converting them?

  • $\begingroup$ WRF data may be harder to get, because it's not one of the big standard supercomputer models, but instead is a package that many people have subsequently setup and run on their own servers. You can find many different websites with WRF simulations being run for different areas... but because they're just small side projects for most, people, and they use a lot of space per run, it's unlikely you'll find much archived data, I'd think. $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2016 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, you da real MVP. Do you know if MapBox works well with Gempak or OpenGrADS? $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2016 at 23:43
  • $\begingroup$ I really haven't worked with it. Funny enough, I'm looking to learn more about it, and haven't really figured out where to get started. We're going opposite directions! Perhaps search for conversions into a proper format? $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2016 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ I found this: github.com/cambecc/earth Is it possible to convert GFS Gempak data from Iowa St. into JSON, or am I better off scraping GFS data from NOMADS? $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2017 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ I found that you could go Gem -> NetCDF (-> NcML ->)[github.com/Unidata/thredds/issues/654], or (perhaps there are more direct methods)[unidata.ucar.edu/support/help/MailArchives/netcdf/…. Does sound like some work, but I'm always pro doing it yourself rather than stealing off the work/bandwidth of others. :-) Plus you wouldn't wake have to deal with any sudden changes/downtime from NOMADS or throttles they have. How would you scrape it? Do they have JSON files?? $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2017 at 0:40

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