KCNC in Denver has a new satellite truck....ummmm.... Mobile WeatherLab.
The sat truck....errrrr... mobile weatherlab is a high-tech, modified Chevy Suburban that combines the features of a satellite truck, a microwave relay truck and mobile cellular technology.
The Denver Post says there’s even an HD infrared camera mounted on the front (with mini-windshield wiper) so the vehicle can transmit while driving. And the weathermobile can go off-road, an advantage in situations like the mountain wildfires.
Chevy has a sponsorship deal with the station but the news folks aren’t required to use the name Chevy every time they refer to the lab.
Recent hire Justin McHeffey works an iPad to update images displayed on a large HD screen under the hatchback. The van only seats two because there’s a weather center, with desk, chair and computer screens, in what would be the backseat.
Engineering manager Eric Buckland and remote field operations boss Richard Lovell retrofitted the truck themselves. It’s the first in Colorado; nationally the CBS-owned stations have them or are planning them. The constant rattling of tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment as the thing moves doesn’t seem to bother the Channel 4 staffers, who couldn’t be prouder.
Competitors aren’t so impressed. “I don’t know that it’s a distinct advantage in covering the weather,” said KUSA-Channel 9 News Director Patti Dennis. “Everyone is extremely agile with live transmission capability.” The backpack units 9News uses are just as nimble, she said. “Broadband technology is the breakthrough” and all the local stations already make use of that.