NOAA post Hurricane Matthew imagery in Google Earth

Yesterday we talked about how the NOAA aerial imagery of the eastern US coast in the wake of Hurricane Matthew is available as map tiles. We investigated how to display map tiles in Google Earth and concluded that doing it with a single KMZ file would not be feasible. We also said it wouldn’t be worth setting up a server to serve the necessary KML files, but after some consideration we decided to give it a go.

Rather than generating the hundreds of thousands of KML files necessary to make it work, we realised that we could simply generate KML files dynamically as they are requested. It actually worked a lot better than we expected. We implemented it in JavaScript, initially testing it out with a local instance of Node.js running on a PC which worked very well. We then put the code on a Node.js server running in the cloud (Openshift) and it still works remarkably well.

So, to view the NOAA imagery in Google Earth, simply download this KML file. You should immediately be able to see the thin strip of imagery along the eastern coast of the US. Also note that there are a number of new patches of aerial imagery inland.

As you zoom in, it automatically loads higher resolution imagery almost as seamlessly as native Google Earth imagery. The imagery is arranged in separate layers for batches of imagery captured on different dates. Occasionally there is a problem with layers overlapping, in which case you may see grey squares mixed in with imagery. If you experience this, try turning off some of the layers until you identify which layer has the grey squares, then keep that particular layer off while viewing that location. There are also some locations such as Rocky Mount, North Carolina for example, with multiple sets of imagery captured on different days, so again, try turning off some layers to see the different sets.

The flooding is still ongoing at the time of writing, and NOAA is adding new imagery over time. We will try to keep the server up-to-date over the next few days, so try refreshing the main network-link to see if there are new layers.


Nichols, South Carolina.


Boardman, North Carolina.


Near Galivants Ferry, South Carolina.


A flooded water treatment plant near Smithfield, North Carolina.


Rocky Mount, North Carolina.


Goldsboro, Georgia.

This is just an experiment to learn about the best way to access map tiles in Google Earth. We make no guarantees about how long we will keep the server running.

If you know of any other maps available as map tiles that do not have restrictive licence agreements, let us know in the comments.

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.






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.

Comments

  1. If I even knew what map tiles were?

  2. Bruce Herring says:

    Is a chance you’d have photos of eastern Cuba? Cajobabo to be specific.

  3. You should keep the servers running until Google updates their historical Imagery (which probably will never happen)



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.