Big Layer Update – Weather Layers in Google Earth

New Weather Layers in Google EarthGoogle has made some big changes to the layers! First the layers have been re-organized substantially. You may have to hunt a bit to find things under new folders. For example: Featured Content is now Gallery, Populated Places falls under Borders and Labels, the many layers describing stores, geographic features, sports venues etc. are now under Places of Interest. I suggest you play around by opening folders and trying out layers to learn the new organization. Click on the “+” and “-” boxes to open and close the folders. The new organization is an improvement, but I still think a new interface for layers is needed.
The big new content layer is the new Weather layer. This is something I’ve wanted to see since the beginning. Right now, the new weather layer contains three sub layers: Clouds, Radar, and Conditions and Forecasts.

Weather layers in Google Earth

There’s also an Information link which provides a good summary of the sources of the data and how to use them. Most of the data in this release seems to be managed by – although the clouds come from the Naval Research Labs’ Marine Meteorology Division. Note: the radar data provided by is only for the US at this time.
Make sure to click on the “Information” link, because in the upper right you find two links which let you download time animations for the clouds and radar respectively. An information bubble for each network link loaded in your Temporary Places explains how to use the time animations.
I’m really glad to see the new weather layer. The clouds layer from the Navy Research Lab in Monterrey looks quite good. It is updated hourly. For many other stories about weather-related KML files, check out the GEB Weather category. Also check the best GE storm tracking tools post for lots of other useful weather tools.
By the way, thanks to Volker at for the tip on the new layer update – he has been monitoring his new Caribbean 1500 Sailing Cup, so he was quick to notice the new weather layer.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. We have a quite nice application for the animated weathermap, because you can now see how the weather was when the boats were on their route in the past.
    Both weather and waypoints are animatable.
    You need to re-load the latest version from today to see this. The link can be found in yesterday’s posting.

  2. Frans Blok says

    The clouds layer (nice to have it as a standard GE-layer, although the resolution is indeed still a bit poor)is not working perfect yet; I see a strange triangular gap above North Western Europe.

  3. The new weather layer doesn’t exist in the German version of the program 🙁

  4. Is it just me or is Global Awareness in two spots?
    I see it under the main Primary Database and in Geographic Web -> Preview -> Global Awareness. However, the latter doesn’t seem to have all the placemarks as the other one.
    And I hope they plan on adding more to weather like marine weather (buoy data, SST), winds, fronts, jet streams, humidity, etc. Although I’m sure these are more than the average person may be interested in, I’ll still keep my fingers crossed. But do appreciate the weather they have, its a great start!

  5. This is just wonderful! It may not be perfect, but still it’s a great start.

  6. @Crash:
    It exists in the German version, I use it.
    You may need an update?
    My version is 4.2.0198.2451 (beta)

  7. Glad to see there are a few positive comments on the new cloud layer. It’s definitely a start.
    Agree that improvements can be made and indeed some of those are already in the works. Also agree that the version mentioned by Frank Taylor is a very good one. A couple nice things about the version on Google Earth’s weather layer are the following:
    1) It incorporates a global dynamic scaling for land surface temperature that is further corrected for emissivity at 11 micrometers (the IR channel being used here). This helps avoid the “cold land creep” that you see in the previous version (and erroneous clouds which are in fact just cold land signal). The artifact is evident as one progresses toward the poles, and can also manifest on the nighttime side of the earth if one isn’t careful and uses a constant scaling bound. It also removes land artifacts (any continental structures in the previous version will show up as thin cloud obscuration in Earth) One could attempt a latitudinally dependent scaling bound but this will not capture the horizontal variability tied to weather and diurnal effects on land masses.
    2) The Google Earth cloud layer version is not limited to the 5 geostationary birds, but incorporates a constellation of polar orbiters (including AVHRR and MODIS sensors) to provide additional information poleward of 50-60 degrees or so. The previous version appears to avoid data gaps via a reflection of the geostationary data in these regimes, resulting in erroneous cloud fields (e.g., backward frontal systems, combined with an inverted cold creep artifact toward the poles).
    3) Owing to the non-synchronous schedule of geo imagery collection and frequency of polar orbiter updates, the Earth cloud layer dynamically updates hourly as opposed to 3 hourly.
    As for resolution…possibly due to server limitations, the NRL cloud layer is not currently appearing on Earth at the full resolution of the actual mask (which is rendered at 4 km resolution). Presumably this will be addressed in the future.
    The down-side to using the polar orbiters is that you tend to have a patch-work (cloud discontinuity) effect owing to temporal mismatches and drastically different viewing angles compared with the geostationary data. The upside is that there are additional spectral channels available that will drastically improve cloud detection over most geo’s, those mods are in the works. Definitely room for improvement here, though!

  8. I wish I could organize they layers in the order *I* want them.

  9. I am using german version of GE, I am missing the ‘Conditions and Forecasts’ layer and the triangular gap is really ugly…
    I wondered if the clouds are at some height, and they are… I am using the Global Cloud layer from xplanet and ChrisMDP which gives me the choice of different heights for the clounds and an option to paint clound shadows on the ground.
    Is it possible to set the temperature units (F or °C) in dependence of the language GE is installed?

  10. [update to my previous comment]
    I installed the latest version of GE, switched to english language and the weather conditions and forecasts are still missing…
    I noticed a new behaviour with alternative place names. I’d like them in german but with the new layers I could not activate them when running GE in german language. Switching to english language the layer appears. When switching back to german I realized that the german placenames are enabled by default and I can not switch them off when I need more space for other things…

  11. Jarno Peschier says

    And it looks like the first Dutch content layer has appeared!
    There is now a layer showing locations where episodes of (a childerns program with documentaries about science, nature and stuff) where filmed. The placemarks include YouTube videos of the episodes.
    See for a Google Earth download description followed by how to find the new layer (in Dutch of course). It is under the Geographical Examples, but probably only if you set GE to Dutch.

  12. Did you notice that the clouds are at a higher elevation. If you tilt your view to see the horizon, and turn on the clouds animation, you will see the clouds drifting by above your location.

  13. and there’s no doppler radar for europe… and there’s good doppler radar available in europe….

  14. I’m all for GE adding new content and layers, but I sure wish they would quit screwing around with existing layers. I hate to sound like an old fuddy duddy, but it seems every time there’s a layers update I have to go searching for my favorites ’cause they’ve moved.

  15. While Google Earth (and for that matter, all of Google’s products) has already been fantastic, the addition of (near real-time) clouds is breathtaking and again, I can only reiterate my statement that Google is the BEST COMPANY ON THE PLANET (honestly!)
    Go on changing the world for the better!

  16. I love that they’re doing weather now. And, I do agree that other layers like fronts would be extremely handy. But, my biggest pet-peeve about the clouds and radar layers is those seriously annoying clear lines that criss-cross the globe. For instance, there’s a N-S line that goes straight through New Orleans up towards St. Louis, of course there has to be either clouds or precip on the layers in order to notice.

  17. Guys, you may also be interested in knowing about the real-time data available from the Warning Decision Support System (WDSS) of the National Weather Service. They support GE by offering KML and GeoTiff files.
    They offer not only radar, but satellite imagery, in addition to weather advisories as they are issued by the NWS and local storm reports as they are received. Some research material is available, as well. Obviously, this is only for the US, but it’s very slick to work with!

  18. Why I have a problem with “Conditions and Forecasts”, “Clouds”…etc in my pc?
    There is written: Fetch of NetworkLink “2008-05-22 10:42:23.065175” failed (
    Please help me!

  19. I clicked on the WEATHER/INFORMATION link in the Google Earth sidebar. I clicked on Download 6-hour radar animation. After starting it, I went into the tool and clicked on LOOP ANIMATION. When I went back to the RADAR ANIMATION bar, I must have clicked on the wrong button. Now it goes through the 6 hour cycle and updates the map with the same radar data over and over. The radar data on the map does not change anymore. I have done everything possible including uninstall and install Google Earth. What can I do to get the RADAR ANIMATION TO WORK CORRECTLY?

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.