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WXP Programs and Databases

WXP Executables

WXP is a toolkit so rather than there being one monolithic program, there are over 40 programs with varying functionality.  The system administrator will install these in some central location, such as /home/wxp/bin so that a generic executable path (see the PATH environment variable) can be used to access them.   Sometimes these are placed elsewhere in which you may need to contact your system administrator in order to set up your environment properly.

Here is a list of the WXP executables and a brief description of what they do:

Shell Programs

  • wxp - This is the WXP shell program.  It only acts as a front end to the other WXP programs.  It does not perform any calculations or generate any graphics.

Ingest Programs

  • ingest - The WXP data ingestor.  The program reads in data from the NWS Family of Services or NOAAPORT, selects specific products from the feeds and saves them to data files on disk. For university sites, the ingest is performed with the Unidata LDM software.


  • sacvt - The surface data (SAO/METAR) decoder.  
  • smcvt - The synoptic surface data decoder.
  • uacvt - The upper air data decoder.
  • radcvt - The radar data (MDR/RCM) decoder.
  • climat - The climate data (CLIMAT) decoder.
  • shefcvt - The hydrological data (SHEF) decoder.
  • hurricane - The hurricane advisory decoder.


  • parse - The general purpose data parser.
  • sa_parse - The data parser for surface data.  This program can parse for regions and decode the data if needed.
  • ua_parse - This program parses converted upper air file for specific stations, displays the sounding data and calculates sounding parameters.
  • fo_parse - This program parses Model Output Statistics (MOS) data and presents the data in table form.
  • forecast - This program parses text forecasts based on forecast type and zone.
  • griblook - This program parses model gridpoint files and lists the grids contained in the file.

Plotting Programs

  • sfcwx - The surface data (SAO/METAR/SYNOP) plotting program.
  • statlog - The surface data meteogram program (time series of surface data).
  • upairwx - The upper air data plotting program.
  • uacalplt - The upper air sounding plotting program.  This program calculates sounding parameters, plots Stuve, Skew-Ts and Hodograms.
  • rad - The radar data plotting program.  This program will plot MDR summaries, NOWRad and NIDS data.
  • fouswx - The MOS data plotting program.
  • xsat - The satellite image display program.  This program primarily supports images in McIDAS AREA file format.
  • mapplt - The generic map drawing program.  This program will also plot data from WXP formatted raw files.
  • light - This program can display NLDN lightning data.
  • grbsnd - This program plots soundings from model gridpoint data.  The program derives a sounding from the grids given a lat/lon point or a particular station name.

Contouring Programs

  • sfccalc - The surface data contouring program.
  • upcalc - The upper air data contouring program.
  • focalc - The MOS data contouring program.
  • grbcalc - The model gridpoint data contouring program.
  • contour - Contours existing grids.
  • vector  - Draws wind vectors, streamlines from existing grids.
  • grid - Fits WXP formatted raw files to a grid and contours the result.

Loop/Overlay Programs

  • wxploop - The WXP overlay and looping program.  This program offers a plotting window for WXP programs. This allows multiple WXP programs to overlay graphics and then by creating multiple windows, loop those windows.
  • loopet - This program interfaces with the wxploop program to set various parameters.

Calculations Programs

  • rawmath - This program performs mathematical functions on WXP raw files.
  • grdmath - This program performs mathematical functions on WXP grid files.
  • domtran - Plot domain transformation program
  • unit - Unit conversion program
  • wchill - Calculates wind chill.
  • heat - Calculates heat index.
  • stdatms - Calculates standard atmosphere values.
  • moist - Calculates moisture variables.

Miscellaneous Programs

  • wxpfile - Generates WXP file names, date/time strings and labels.
  • wxpdef - Queries WXP resource values.
  • wxpcity - Queries station information.
  • pscat - Concatenates postscript files.
  • hpglcat - Concatenates HPGL/PCL files
  • gifcat - Concatenates GIF images into a loop
  • xdepth - Queries X windows depth.

WXP Database Files

WXP uses several text based database files to define station locations, map backgrounds, colors, variables, etc. All the WXP database files go in a central location, often /home/wxp/etc or /usr/local/wxp/etc.  This location is set in the file_path resource which is specified in the default resource file (.wxpdef).

Here is a list of the standard database files and their purpose:

City Databases (.cty) - station locations

  • sao.cty - The standard city database file for SAO/METAR stations.  This file currently contains both the old 3 letter identifier as well as the new 4 letter identifiers.  This is used by most surface programs and by programs that query location like grbsnd and grdmath.
  • sao_all.cty - This database contains surface stations not listed in the sao.cty file.  This file covers some gaps and is used by the rad program for locating watch boxes.
  • upa.cty - This lists all upper stations that might appear on the Domestic Data service (mostly North America)
  • upa_all.cty - This lists the upper air stations world wide.
  • syn.cty - This is a list of all synoptic reporting stations world wide.
  • rad.cty - This includes the location of all radar stations for use in compiling MDR radar summaries.
  • mos.cty - This lists all MOS data stations.

Map Databases (.map and .bmap) - map outlines

  • wxp.map - The standard WXP base map (low resolution over North America)
  • cont.map - The continental outline base map.
  • country.map - The country outline base map.  This is used in conjunction with cont.map.
  • state.map - High resolution state outlline map.
  • wxpstate.map - Only contains state outlines and is used with cont.map.
  • usa_cnty.map - Low resolution county outline base map.

    DLG (Digital Line Graph) Maps - High resolution USGS maps (subset)
  • dlg/coast.bmap - Coast outlines
  • dlg/nation.bmap - National outlines
  • dlg/state.bmap - State outlines
  • dlg/cnty.bmap - County outlines
  • dlg/rd_int.bmap - Interstate highway outlines.

Raw Databases (.raw) - used with wxpcity program

  • cities.raw - lists cities with location, FIPS and zone numbers and controlling WFO.
  • counties.raw - lists counties with centroid location, FIPS and zone numbers and controlling WFO.
  • states.raw - lists states with primary WFO and possible WFOs.
  • zones.raw - lists NWS forecast zones, FIPS and zone numbers and controlling WFO.
  • zip.raw - lists zip codes,  FIPS and zone numbers and controlling WFO.

Variable Databases (.var) - lists predefined variables for each program

  • sfcwx.var
  • sfccalc.var
  • statlog.var
  • upairwx.var
  • upcalc.var
  • rad.var
  • fouswx.var
  • focalc.var
  • grbcalc.var

Lookup Databases (.lup) - extraneous lookup tables

  • wxp.menu - Lists what will appear in each WXP shell menu
  • case.lup - Lists case studies that can be used through the WXP shell
  • parse.lup - Lists the data file tags (see in_file) for particular text product types.  This allows the user to ignore the in_file resource once a product header (product resource) has been specified.
  • model.lup - Lists each model and its component grid file tags (see in_file).  This is also used in piecing multi-grid products together for a particular model.
  • variable.lup - Lists each variable type (variable number in GRIB files) along with a short name (used by variable resource) and a long name (used in labelling plots).
  • mod_name.lup - Lists available models by GRIB model number.  This way new model types can be added in without changing source code.
  • source.lup - Lists available data sources (see GRIB).
  • units.lup - Units conversion lookup table.  This is used by all WXP programs to convert units.  You can add your own units into this file if needed.

Regions Databases (.reg) - predefined region lookup

  • wxp.reg - The default region file which predefines all WXP regions as well as what will appear in WXP region menu.

Map File Lists (.mpl) - predefined lists of maps to draw

  • cnty.mpl - Draws state, county borders plus interstates.  The map detail depends on zoom factor

Color Tables (.clr)

  • wxp.clr - Standard WXP color table with 16 colors.
  • sat.clr - Color table for satellite images with 50 gray shades and extra colors for enhancements.
  • radar.clr - Standard colors for high resolution radar images (16 level NIDS, NOWRad)
  • gray10.clr - 10 level gray color table
  • gray25.clr - 25 level gray color table
  • gray100.clr - 100 level gray color table
  • rainbow.clr - 24 level rainbow color table
  • rainbow2.clr - 48 level rainbow color table
  • rainbow4.clr - 95 level rainbow color table

Color Fill Tables (.cfl) - defines which colors will be used in color fill contours

  • conv.cfl - Used for convergence where negative values are dashed and positive values are filled with a stipple pattern.
  • depict.cfl - Used with weather depictions to outline MVFR areas and shade in IFR areas.
  • dew.cfl - Line patterns used in drawing dewpoint contours.
  • lift.cfl - Similar to conv.cfl except negative values are filled with a stipple pattern.
  • nowrad.cfl - Fill colors used with NOWRad images
  • pop.cfl - Used in filling Probability of Precipitation (POP) contours.
  • prec.cfl - Defines the contour levels and the colors for quantitative precipitation contours.
  • thick.cfl - Line patterns used with thickness line contours (dotted lines with every 5th line solid)
  • sat_mb.enh - MB Satellite enhancement scheme.

Symbols Databases (.smb) - outlines of weather symbols

  • ch.smb - High Cloud symbols
  • cl.smb - Low Cloud symbols
  • cm.smb - Medium Cloud symbols
  • ptend.smb - Pressure Tendency symbols
  • pwx.smb - Present Weather symbols (0-9)
  • sev.smb - Severe Weather symbols (Tornado, Hail, Gusts)
  • wx.smb - SAO Weather symbols (TRW-, SW, F, etc)

Fonts Databases (.fnt) - outlines of text

  • gothic.fnt - Gothic
  • greek.fnt - Greek
  • modern.fnt - Modern normal
  • modern_bold.fnt - Modern bold
  • modern_ital.fnt - Modern italics
  • roman.fnt - Roman normal
  • roman_bold.fnt - Roman bold
  • roman_ital.fnt - Roman italics


  • .wxpdef - Resource file
  • name_conv - Name convention file

For further information about WXP, email technical-support@weather.unisys.com
Last updated by Dan Vietor on June 20, 2001