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.
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.
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.
Ashley Welborn says
If I even knew what map tiles were?
Timothy Whitehead says
I give a brief description in this post and you can find a more technical description here
Bruce Herring says
Is a chance you’d have photos of eastern Cuba? Cajobabo to be specific.
Timothy Whitehead says
Yes, there is some DigitalGlobe imagery via Google Crisis Response. See this post for links to the online map and KML file.
You should keep the servers running until Google updates their historical Imagery (which probably will never happen)