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169 Views Satellite Cloud Product

Link: https://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/sites/scp.php?network=IA_ASOS&station=DSM

A fervent IEM user inquired the other day about a satellite based cloud product (SCP) that NESDIS issues to help supplement ceilometer METAR reports coming from the FAA/NWS airport ASOS sites. The ground based ASOS sites have a sensor that depending on the equipment installed, can only "see" so far up into the atmosphere. This satellite product provided for many of the ASOS locations supplements the METAR reports by providing cloud coverages at higher altitudes.

It turns out that the IEM was already archiving the raw text product back to the year 1993 as a part of our routine NWS text archiving and the format was trivial to write a parser for, so down the rabbit hole we go with providing a JSON webservice to access this data and a simple webpage that merges the METAR and SCP reports.

The few users that have been testing this out shared some interesting usage cases of the data including better determination of cloudy vs clear conditions and quality control checks on the METAR reports. If you have any comments or find it useful, please let us know. Thanks for your interest and usage of this website.