Knowledge is power and in the case of a hurricane, knowledge is safety. As a hurricane approaches an area, residents watch nervously as television forecasters point out possible paths. But for those who want a more detailed analysis, Google Earth is the answer. Google Earth has long been known for its software that allows viewers to zoom in on any part of the world.
With the aid of images provided by satellites, you can see anything from The Basilica to your own rooftop. Google Earth’s weather-tracking software combines real-life images of the storm with computer produced graphics of possibilities. With input from NOAA, including photographs from their aircraft that fly into the center of storms, the view from Google Earth is as real as you can get.
To get started, simply go to Google Earth.com. You’ll see a menu of all sorts of programs. Click on Weather tracking and you’ll be taken step by step through the download process. You’ll see weather satellite photos plus radar tracking. There will be pressure maps, wind maps, and even sea surface temperatures. There’s a historical section that shows past hurricanes and what the maps looked like. You may see similarities with the hurricane approaching you. For a look at one of the worst hurricanes in U.S. history, click on the time animation tracking of Hurricane Katrina.
Everyone who lives in a hurricane area is interested in projections of the storm’s path. Those working in public safety areas have even more reason to know the latest information. And in the event of a power outage, Google earth on a battery-powered lap top computer will be far more useful to you than listening to the local radio station on a transistor radio. Besides, if the radio station loses its tower, you’ll have nothing. Even if you’ve evacuated to a shelter, sitting with your laptop (provided you can get a wifi connection) Google Earth may be an important news source to everyone there.
Not only does storm tracking via Google Earth allow you to keep track of the approaching hurricane; it also shows all currently active storms – hurricanes, cyclones, and tropical storms. You’ll see all the potential storm tracks and associated advisories. Watching the cloud patterns provided by military-operated Doppler stations, you’ll be able to see the shape and size of the storm and compare it to others. The farther a storm is offshore, the more uncertain the path is. Google Earth keeps the trajectories up to date with odds on the likelihood of each path.
As you watch a storm which has already done damage, you’ll be able to zoom in and out with high resolution looking at the results. You’ll also be able to see maps showing lightning strikes (with latitude and longitude of each), and see information gathered from ships and planes in the area.
Whether you’re a homeowner or an emergency first responder, waiting for the next broadcast weather news can seem like an eternity when the safety of lives and homes hang in the balance. Google Earth weather tracking allows you to be on the front row of information receiving.
And when the storm is over, you’ll be able to view photos from all over the area. Google Earth will allow you to see any other storms brewing in the oceans so you’ll know whether to breathe a sign of relief or begin emergency preparations anew. On a happy note, when hurricane season is over, Google Earth also has a program that tracks the path of Santa.