Google Earth Imagery Update: LaPlace tornado

Google has recently pushed out another imagery update. We have mapped out the approximate locations of imagery for March, April and May, 2016. The last update we did maps for was this one. There was a minor update since then, but we did not generate maps other than identifying that there was only one image from May at the time and it was of the Fort McMurray wildfire.

May imagery

March imagery. Red:Recently added imagery. Blue:imagery as of May 10th.

April imagery. Red:Recently added imagery. Blue:imagery as of May 10th.

To view the outlines in Google Earth download this KML file.

On February 23rd, 2016, a tornado struck LaPlace, Louisiana. It was one of an outbreak of 60 tornadoes that struck over two days. It was a relatively mild tornado measuring EF2. The imagery is from April 7th, 2016, so more than a month after the tornado struck.

The path of the tornado. It didn’t leave much of a track visible from this altitude.

Zoom in a bit and notice the blue rooftops marking out that path the tornado took!

Most of the damage seems to have been at least temporarily repairable with blue roof tarpaulins. However, some completely destroyed houses can be seen.

Do any of our readers know why blue is the preferred colour for roof repair tarpaulins?

Be sure to explore it in Google Earth with this KML file.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. alok singh says:

    when come in india

  2. Would it be possible to share in brief how you actually obtained the places of the updated imagery.

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      The Google Earth API allows you to query the dates shown in the historical imagery time bar. If you zoom into a location, the dates available for that location show in the time bar. I wrote some Javascript to scan the globe and read the dates looking for dates of interest. It is a very slow process, so I first scan from high altitude then progressively repeat zooming in on areas where imagery of interest has been found for greater detail. If there is a lot of imagery, this takes several days to complete – even with 12 instances of the Google Earth API all running concurrently. Even greater resolution would be possible, but at the cost of significantly more time.

  3. Thank you. This is very interesting for me. I hope that Google will allow a ‘normal’ way of getting these data after the end of the Google Earth API.

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