Tracking hurricanes in Google Earth

The 2011 hurricane season is in full swing, and Google has recently added a nice set of hurricane-related data to Google Earth. Simply make sure that your “Places” layer is enabled, and you’ll see icons appear in the water wherever hurricanes and/or tropical storms exist. For example, here is Tropical Storm Don, currently located in the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico.


This new feature in Google Earth is quite solid, as it provides quite a bit of data about each storm, along with historical tracks and future track predictions. However, it’s a bit odd that this appears in the “Places” layer; why not somewhere in the “Weather” folder? As they explain in a recent blog entry, Google is trying to make the hurricane data easier to find by leaving it in the main “Places” layer, which is likely turned on for a lot of people. Still, if people dig around trying to find it, I’d expect most will go to the “Weather” layer first.
In past seasons we’ve seen other great hurricane trackers, such as the one from ‘Glooton’ that we’ve used for the past five years or so. However, that tracker is no longer working, and we’re having a difficult time finding any decent tools beyond the one now built-in to Google Earth.
If you know of any other great hurricane tracking files for Google Earth, let us know about it and we’ll be sure to add it to our weather tools KMZ file.

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. Great file directly from the NWS.
    It’s the Tropical Cyclone forecast models file.

  2. I’m not finding any hurricanes when I turn the Places layer on. It does show up some earthquake dots, but not nearly as many as the ones with the same icons under the actual Earthquakes layer. I tried to get to the same vantage point as in your screen shot, but still no hurricanes. Apart from turning on Places, what do I have to do?

  3. James Price says:

    I love the new hurricane tracking tool. I used to work at the US National Hurricane Center, and wish they would add KML as one of the data download options, but not yet.
    Also, I am now living and working in Korea. I am more focused on typhoons, than hurricanes, and was wondering if there was any thought to adding the tracks for active Pacific typhoons? The US Joint Typhoon Warning Center is an authoritative source, and the cover the entire Central and Western Pacific, north and south, as well as the Indian Ocean.
    J Price in Seoul

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