After 23 years, Weather Channel’s iconic computerized channel is shutting down

Enlarge / An on-air capture of Weatherscan in 2020. Weatherscan shows 24/7 weather forecasts controlled by computer. (credit: TWC Archive)

In the early 2000s, Americans who wanted to catch the local weather forecast at any time might turn on their TV and switch over to Weatherscan, a 24-hour computer-controlled weather forecast channel with a relaxing smooth jazz soundtrack. After 23 years, The Weather Channel announced that Weatherscan will be shutting down permanently on or before December 9. But a group of die-hard fans will not let it go quietly into the night.

Launched in 1999, Weatherscan currently appears in a dwindling number of local American cable TV and satellite markets. It shows automated local weather information on a loop, generated by an Intellistar computer system installed locally for each market. Declining viewership and the ubiquity of smartphone weather apps are the primary reasons it’s going offline.

There are also technical issues with maintaining the hardware behind the service. “Weatherscan has been dying a slow death over the course of the last 10 years because the hardware is aging,” says Mike Bates, a tech hobbyist who collects and restores Weather Channel computer hardware as part of a group of die-hard fans who follow insider news from the company. “It’s 20 years old now, and more and more cable companies have been pulling the service.”

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