Tracking tornadoes in Google Earth

With storms again ripping through the country, many of us are on the lookout for tornadoes. While it can’t help you prepare for one, Tornado Paths, created by Perry Samson at the University of Michigan, is a great way to view the locations and paths of past storms.
By default it shows all of the tornadoes that have hit the United States in the past 48 hours, but it has a few other nifty features.
• View “Today in History“, which shows all of the tornadoes that have struck on today’s date in the past 61 years.
• Use the search box to let you see all of the tornadoes that have struck a particular zip code since 1950. Very interesting stuff! For example, I now know that a 1986 tornado came within a few hundred meters of our current house.


Of course, it makes excellent use of Google Earth too. By clicking the “View in Google Earth link from the home page, you can view the most recent tornadoes in Google Earth.

As you can see, the tornadoes have a nice 3D semi-transparent affect, and some cows flying around nearby in an apparent homage to the classic movie “Twister”.
Have you had any close calls with a tornado recently? We’ve had some brutal storms lately, but fortunately no tornadoes too close to home.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Jason Hunter says:

    I don’t know what happened to the site but I can’t get the link to to work at all.

  2. One-Screen viewing of the history of tornadoes in a specific area could really provide some insight for high risk areas.

  3. I live in Atlanta. I had no idea that many tornadoes have hit this area since 1950.

  4. I realize this is an old post, but for those just finding it, be advised that as of 2015, the paths shown on for the 1974 and 2000 tornadoes in Xenia, OH are not correct. Others may also be wrong. This may reflect changes in Google’s API or accuracy since the site was originally developed.

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