Legacy - Used in few cable companies around the United States and decommissioned in Canada (1997)
The Weather Star 4000 is the first graphic-capable model of the WeatherStar line manufactured for The Weather Channel. It was first introduced in December 1989 and was designed by Canadian electronics company Applied Microelectronics Institute (now Amirix); the WeatherStar 4000 was manufactured by Northern Telecom.
It had an improved display font over its predecessor, the Weather Star III, with mixed-case rendering (though this did not appear on launch). The first 4000s that were placed in service were programmed to operate in a text-only mode, like its predecessors (using its improved font instead). However, the 4000 used slightly different flavors (arrangements of information and forecast products) that included, beginning in April 1990, a graphical radar page at the end of the local forecast. While widely used during most of the 1990s, many cable companies began to replace the 4000 with the newer Weather Star XL in 1998 and 1999 and – later – the IntelliStar in the next decade. The 4000 remains in use primarily in smaller and rural cable providers where upgrading to a more modern Weather Star would be a significant expense.
The Weather Star 4000 also was deployed in Canada by The Weather Network and its French-language sister MétéoMédia from 1992 to 1997, when owner Pelmorex replaced it with its proprietary PMX system. The Weather Star 4000 displayed various products in Canada that were never available in the U.S.
Graphical weather products, such as icons and maps for regional products.
An internal local radar product (the first on any STAR), in both time-lapse and static variants (the time-lapse radar was added in a major late 1992 update; the previous Weather Stars had the capability to display radar, but had to be connected to a third-party source).
The ability to receive text-based local forecasts created by TWC meteorologists (and before that the National Weather Service).
A lower display line (LDL), with forecast information in the top 50 U.S. markets. While the IntelliStar LDL is cued to air all the time, the 4000, Junior, and XL LDLs are not cued to air anymore except with a cuing mishap.
The ability to crawl or scroll weather warnings from the National Weather Service.
Specialty products for certain areas: the Air Quality Forecast for southern California (which would make its national debut on the IntelliStar), Tides for coastal areas, and the Marine Forecast.
Until the mid-1990s, The Weather Channel sold an optional sensor package that could be connected to a Weather Star to display weather conditions at the headend office on the LDL, including the current temperature, the highest and lowest temperatures recorded since midnight local time, relative humidity, wind speed, direction, and gusts, and current daily and monthly precipitation totals.
Radar products are/were not available on the Weather Star 4000 outside of the contiguous 48 states and Puerto Rico.
In Alaska and (in one case) in New York City, the Latest Observations product was repeated.
In Hawaii, the radar was centered in the state of Washington with a label permanently displaying "Radar Data Temporarily Unavailable".
In these early days, the 4000 was functionally a replica of the Weather Star III, only with a cleaner font.
The "Current Radar" segment was added to the 4000, making it the first STAR with its own radar imagery. At this time, the segment was called "Your Local Radar".
WeatherStar 4000 gets new graphics featuring colorful orange and blue backgrounds matching TWC's national weather segments at the time. The Weather Channel's logo appears on the local forecast for the first time, and the "Regional Forecast" map debuts with motionless weather icons. The time and date appear on the LDL (Lower Display Line).
The five-minute N flavor local forecast, which was shown when TWC rewound the tapes for its pre-recorded overnight programming, is discontinued.
February 14, 1991
The L flavor local forecast debuts.
The graphical version of the "Extended Forecast" segment is created, replacing the former NWS text based version.
"Almanac" (formerly "Regional Information") data is redesigned to show the moon phases.
The E and K flavors' screen lineups have their timing realigned as the "Extended Forecast" segment was limited to one graphical page instead of two text-based pages. Because of this, the narration of TWC staff announcer Dan Chandler is discontinued on these two flavors.
The regional weather icons became animated.
The current radar is updated to include major roads.
The time and date are moved to the top right from the Lower Display Line.
April 17, 1991
Weather icons are added to the "Current Conditions" segment; however, they are very large and lack a nighttime set.
The "Current Conditions" segment is finalized.
Chandler re-records the narration for the Weather Star 4000; the narration for the E and K flavors' is once again restored.
The Regional Conditions map debuts, replacing the text-based version of the screen.
The "Regional Forecast" map is cleaned up so that no city's information runs off-screen.
The icons used on the Regional Conditions and the Extended Forecast pages make their way to the regional map products.
The Current Radar map is updated to include county boundaries.
The fade effect transitioning to and from the Regional Forecast product is removed.
A second, more opaque dark blue to orange gradient background begins to appear layered over the existing dark blue to orange gradient background to smooth out the color transitions.
August 9, 1992
A new playlist debuts on The Weather Channel, with redone narration on all STARs (Dan Chandler's final set). The 36 Hour Forecast narration now mentions the National Weather Service.
The Regional Forecast product icons return after a hiatus, during which they received a major revamp.
A major change in flavors occurs:
The "Local Radar" map is added, showing any precipitation in the area and its movement over the prior 90 minutes.
The "Travel Cities Forecast" segment becomes icon-based with a blue/aqua blue gradient background
The NOAA logo is added to the "36 Hour Forecast" product.
The Regional Conditions map replaces the "Regional Forecast" during the K Flavor and Dan Chandler updates the narration on the flavor.
Early November 1993
The date and time are nudged further downward to allow room for the local forecast screen segment titles.
Second half of 1993
Observation site names nationwide are simplified (such as New Orleans Intl becoming New Orleans) and begin to appear in mixed case.
The Latest Observations product receives the new observation site names and mixed-case weather descriptors. Some of these changes to observation site names appear on the ticker before the actual products. At other times, the Latest Observations product would have all uppercase text except for the observation sites.
The Weather Channel begins broadcasting regional commercials that can be blocked out by local forecasts generated by a Weather Star. Local Forecasts with lengths of 1:30 and 2:30 do the blocking of these 30-second commercials. STARs using non-narration audio would play this commercial audio. This was used in the summer of 1994 to advertise a TWC telephone survey about the satellite forecast for satellite customers.
The regional icons are updated so that the multi-layered icons are smaller in size; the upper layer cloud moved almost directly on top of its underlying weather graphic.
August 4, 1994
The "Travel Cities Forecast" background gradient is removed, and the Radar map screen becomes eight colors from its previous six-color display.
Some of the icons on the Regional Icon set are changed, such as "Snow" and others are added, such as "Sunny" and "Windy."
April 2, 1995
Flavor lineups are changed once again as the "30 Day Outlook" is discontinued by the National Weather Service (and thus TWC) and the "Local Update" segment is introduced from the National Weather Service as generated by the WeatherStar, which took up more than one screen. It served as a NOWcast-type summary of presently occurring weather and weather developments expected to occur over the next few hours. Dan Chandler's narration is discontinued. A Severe Weather Mode is also added to the 4000: if a severe weather warning crawl is present, a special playlist would play consisting of only current and local area conditions and an extended local radar.
The J flavor is discontinued as the Travel Cities Forecast is dropped and only appears when The Weather Channel is experiencing some minor or major technical difficulties (the Travel Cities Forecast was not dropped on the Weather Star III and is still used in the Weather Star Jr's M flavor).
The first signs of graphical system degradation, are reported, with patchy reports from as early as 1997. Later signs of degradation reported consist of bit rot, including problems, such as the new moon graphic on the Almanac changing colors or the Local Radar's background becoming inverted. These problems are attributed to the age of the graphics rendering hardware, as well as integrity issues with the on-board EEPROM's.
By this time, most cable headends had upgraded to the Weather Star XL, however some companies still use the 4000.
The Weather Channel logo is modernized, and the point size of the fonts in the Local and Current Radar screens become smaller. The font in the titles of the radar segments were changed from Helvetica to Arial.
The 36 Hour Forecast begins to come directly from The Weather Channel and appears in mixed case.
The Local Update is discontinued, stabilizing each flavor.
The Marine Forecast is also discontinued.
The text used on the Station ID became bolder and larger. Some of the old text is still in use up until August 2005.
The Star 4000 debuts in Canada, replacing most Weather Star III units nationwide; some of these III units were experiencing severe degradation.
Forecasts seen during the morning hours used a blue wood grain background, while all other time periods used a green wood grain background.
Specialty forecasts are introduced and air at :10 and :40 minutes after the hour. Marine Conditions feature forecasted winds in knots, wave height, and advisories (small craft advisories, gale warnings or storm warnings). The Agricultural Forecast features temperature, the probability of precipitation, hours of sunshine, and the drying index.
A new background is introduced for local forecasts.
The narration is not as long and the longer forecast flavours are removed.
The Highway Conditions segment no longer uses the same background as the local forecast and still features snow, ice, and visibility conditions for local highways as reported by provincial transportation ministries.
New weather icons are added to the Weather Star 4000.
The narration is removed.
The Weather Network begins broadcasting the backgrounds in an implementation similar to The Weather Channel's national backgrounds for the Weather Star III. For the spring 1995 season, the 4000 still draws portions of the background, but that is dropped by the start of the fall.
Radar imagery makes its debut on select local forecasts.
Second half of 1996
A box is positioned in the lower right corner of the screen, featuring the time, current conditions, and forecast for an upcoming time period.
All Weather Star 4000s are replaced with PMX systems.
Satellite: A satellite image showing the area for which the forecast was intended. Originally part of a special Regional Forecast before being moved to the local forecasts.
UV Report: UV forecasts and readings.
Air Quality: Air quality information for Canadian cities as provided by the provincial air quality monitoring office. A similar segment was on The Weather Channel at this time, but was exclusive to STAR systems in Southern California until 2004.
Ski Conditions: Provided by MRG Network Limited. Displayed trails open, snow conditions, and new snow accumulations. Extremely similar to the U.S. segment.
Recreation Forecast: A segment with several pages over which information for local events (name, date, and a phone number) was shown.