Modifying the Cities Shapefile for AWIPS using ArcGIS 8/9.x
Ira Graffman OST/SEC
16 May, 2006
This document contains instructions on how to edit the city shapefiles used in many of
AWIPS applications and for RIDGE radar displays. If you need to add, delete or modify
a city’s location, this document will help you perform this task. It is a step-by-step tutorial aimed at ArcGIS 8/9.x ArcMap users. Experienced users can choose which
section contains information in which there is detail on unfamiliar procedures
Contents of the Cities shapefile
In the past, the text file, citiesInfo.txt was used for cities information for D2D and LSR.
Another shapefile was used for GFE. In order to make an easy transition into a single
shapefile for all applications, field names that are used by applications in builds OB6 and
earlier have been retained. Better, more descriptive field names were selected to be
used in future builds. Thus, the cities shapefile has some duplicate field names – a legacy name and a new name.
Field Name Description Old or
New Field St_fips Two digit state FIPS Code Old Sfips Two digit state FIPS Code New County_fip Three digit county FIPS code Old Cfips Three digit county FIPS code New Id Unique identifier * New Name City Name N/A Lon Longitude of city N/A Lat Latitude of city N/A Pop_1990 City’s population Old Population City’s population New St State abbreviation N/A State Full state name N/A Warngenlev blank, 1, 2, 3, 01, 02. A leading 0 means the location New
is a city/county hybrid. 1 means major city, 2 means
average warning location, and 3 means wide spot in the
warngentyp blank (point location), New
+ (area weighted centroid), = (user supplied centroid), and
~ (centroid is point furthest from boundary)
Watch_warn Original value of warngenlev and warngentype Old
Z_watch_war Unused Prog_disc Progressive disclosure value
Zprog_disc Unused Elevation Elevation of city in comboflag city/county combination flag New Land_water Unused at this time New Recnum Unused at this time New Ridge Denotes if city used for RIDGE displays New
Yes = used for ridge and AWIPS, No = used for AWIPS
only, Only = used for RIDGE only
Each city has its own unique identifier. This field was added to aid in distinguishing
cities with the same state having the same name and to link the city with an urban area (if
Overview of editing city shapefiles
There are three editing functions that will need to be performed to edit the city shapefile.
A city may need to be added, a city may need to be removed, or a cities location or other
attribute may need to change. It is recommended that the shapefile be subset by WFO
for easier editing and emailing. Once a site finished editing the subset shapefile, the
shapefile is to be sent to NWSHQ to be integrated into the national version of the
shapefile. Only those cities within the CWA boundaries of the submitting WFO will be
put into the national version.
You may find that having a background of counties, forecast zones or other data might be
useful in determining what the radar display might look like and aid you in editing the
data. A source of NWS-centric data is the AWIPS Map Database Catalog (AMDC)
located at http://www.weather.gov/geodata. Download the zip file(s) and unzip. Then
add the shapefile to your map as in the instructions to follow.
For data that cannot be found in the AWIPS shapefiles, the Geographic Names
Information System (GNIS) http://geonames.usgs.gov/ is useful for city data. Click on
“Query GNIS” and fill out the name of the city and the state and search. By clicking on
the feature name in the returned list, you will be able to retrieve the latitude and longitude
coordinates of the city in decimal, the required format for the shapefiles.
Start ArcMap via shortcut or start menu.
If you get the “Start Using ArcMap with” window, click OK to start a new session or
double click a saved project (an .mxd file)
If you are given a screen for adding data when opening a new session, click to the
location of the city shapefile and add it using the “Add Data” dialog.
ArcMap allows the user to add many different “toolbars” to the user interface. The “Standard” and “Editor” toolbars are required for the cities editing tasks. If you do not
see the Add layer button, use the View-?Toolbars? menu and make sure “Standard” is selected. In addition, if you can’t find the Editor Toolbar as pictured below, add the
“Editor” toolbar from the View-?Toolbars? menu.
Figure 1 - Standard Toolbar with Add Layer and select button
Add Layer Select
Figure 2 - Editor Toolbar
To add a shapefile to the map, click the “Add Layer” button. You will get a Windows
standard file add dialog. Find the cities shapefile and select it. You may also want to add
state/and or county shapefiles as background maps to assist you.
Figure 3 - Add Data Window
Sub setting a cities shapefile
In order to subset a cities shapefile, the CWA boundary shapefile is required. If this
shapefile is not already on your system, download a zipped copy from the AMDC at
http://www.weather.gov/geodata/catalog/wsom/html/cwa.htm. Unzip the file and add the
shapefile using the “Add Layer” button.
Select the CWA using the select tool (see Figure 1) or by following the instructions in the
Finding a City or CWA section at the end of this document.
Use the Selection?Select by location menu item. In the window, as in the example
below, choose “Select Features From” and be sure the cities shapefile is checked. Make
sure that “intersect” is selected and the CWA Layer is selected. Finally, make sure “Use
Selected Features” is highlighted and click “Apply”. Then “Close” the window.
You should see the cities within the CWA highlighted. Finally, right click the cities layer
and in the pop-up menu select “Data?Export data.
Choose a name and location for the new shapefile and click ok. Answer yes to adding the
shapefile to the map as a layer.
To eliminate confusion, remove the full cities layer by doing a right click on it and
Figure 4 - Select by Location menu
Figure 5 - ArcMap Screen with Selected cities
Adding cities to the shapefile.
1. Start editing with the Editor?Start editing menu item
Figure 4 - Sketch Tool
2. Click the sketch tool. Right click the tool somewhere near where the city belongs.
Don’t try to be exact – a pop up window appears – select “absolute x, y”. In the
resulting window, put in the exact longitude and latitude of the point. Press the
“Enter” key to save the edit and add the city.
Figure 5 - Screen after city has been added
3. Edit the city attributes by right clicking on the city layer in the Table of contents
and choosing “Open Attribute Table”. 4. If your city is not highlighted in the opened table, click the “Selected” button to
see the city. Click on the empty cell on the highlighted row in the “City” column.
Add the city name and use the “tab” key to move from column to column to add
or modify the attributes.
Figure 6 - ArcMap Attribute Table
5. Repeat steps 1-3 until you are finished adding cities. When finished editing, use
the Editor?Stop Editing menu item. Make sure you save your edits.
C. TO EDIT CITIES ATTRIBUTES (to make changes to a city name or site id)
1. Open the table as in Step 3 above and start editing.
2. Find the city to be edited using a method described in Section F.
3. Make the edits to the record in the table
4. Stop editing and save.
D. TO CHANGE A CITY’S LOCATION
1. Find the city from the map or via methods in section F. If you use the table
method to find the city, go back to the map and find the city via right click the
city layer?Selection?”Zoom to Selected Features”
2. Start Editing with “Editor?Start Editing”
3. Click the Edit tool. Be sure that the task is set to “Modify Feature”.
Task set to “Modify Feature”
Figure 7 - Edit Tool
4. Move the cursor over the city. When it changes shape, right click and select
“Move to”. Enter the latitude and longitude.
5. Open the table and manually edit the latitude and longitude.
6. Stop editing and save edits when finished.
E. TO DELETE CITIES
1. Start editing.
2. Find the city using a method described in Section F.
3. Get back to the map. layer?Selection?”Zoom to Selected Features
4. Hit the delete key
5. Make sure you stop editing and save
Finding a City or CWA
You can just find the feature on the screen or in a table, or you can search for it using the
Query Tool. In order to make the selection process easier, make the city layer the
selectable layer. In ArcMap 8.x and 9.0 use the menu Selection?”Set Selectable
Layers” and choose the layer. In ArcMap 9.1, right click the layer -
layer?”Selections?”Make this the Only Selectable Layer”. You can access the Query tool via the Selection?”Select by Attributes” menu or choose “Select by Attributes” by
clicking the “Options” button while the attribute table is open.
To find a feature by name, double click [city] or [cwa] in the left window. Click “Get Unique Values” and unique names will appear in the right Unique Values window.
Now click the equals sign (=) and scroll and double click the feature name or type it in
(use single quotes if you type it in). Click Apply to select your feature.
Figure 8 - Select by Attributes Window
G. Visualization Aide
In order to assist you in editing cities, it is possible to configure the ArcGIS screen to
be of the approximate size as the radar image. Click in the “Scale” window on the Standard toolbar and enter the string “1:3,352,925” followed by the Enter key. You will
probably want to have an additional background map to assist you.
Figure 9 - Scale Window
Editing roads or rivers shapefiles
A. Adding Roads or Rivers
When you need to add roads or rivers, probably the easiest way to do this is to take the
feature to be added from an existing data set (primary data source) and put them into the proper shapefile. Two good potential data sources are given below. Another option is to
manually draw the new feature.
Data sources – one source of data is the US National Atlas at
http://www.nationalatlas.gov/. Click the “Mapping professionals” link and then the
“Raw data” link. Roads will be under “Transportation” and Rivers under “Water”.
Another potential source is DOC Census TIGER data available at
http://arcdata.esri.com/data/tiger2000/tiger_download.cfm. Click on the state for which you want data. You can select a county then the roads and/or rivers OR you can select
roads or rivers and the counties you want. Roads are under “Line Features – Roads” and
rivers under “Line Features – Hydrography”.
Once the data source is found and the data layer is added to ArcMap you can search for
the feature(s) that you want via the Query Builder, the table or via the map on the view.
Regardless, be sure that the target is set to the layer you want to edit after doing the start
There are two ways to accomplish the task of getting the feature(s) you want into the
Figure 10 - Target window
Option 1: From a primary data source
1. Find/Select the feature in the primary data source shapefile in the same manner as
2. Start editing the RIDGE shapefile (Editor?”Start Editing”).