Google Earth Imagery Updates, Fire, Flood, Tornado!

Google recently updated the ‘historical imagery’ layer after nearly six months of no updates. So, there is a lot of interesting new imagery to see. Last week we had a look at some US wildfires. Today, we are staying with the US and having a look at some more wildfires, some floods and a tornado.

Blue Cut Fire, Cajon Pass, California
The Blue Cut Fire destroyed 105 homes and 213 other structures in August, 2016.






Pilot Fire, California.
The Pilot Fire took place just a short distance to the east of the above Blue Cut Fire. We can see the extent of the burn in Google Earth and a number of houses that were saved by effective firefighting. See the KML file at the end of this post for the location in Google Earth.

Cold Springs Fire, Colorado, July, 2016

We can see the fire in progress.

And we can see the burnt area in later imagery.


Some houses burnt by the Cold Springs Fire.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana Flooding
Back in August we used Sentinel-2 imagery to see the severe flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Read more about the widespread Louisiana flooding event on Wikipedia.

There is now some DigitalGlobe imagery of Baton Rouge showing the flood in various stages:

Kokomo Tornado.
A number of tornadoes struck Indiana in late August, 2016, including one that hit Kokomo, Indiana, destroying a Starbucks in the process. The satellite imagery is not very good quality, although we can see the location of the Starbucks that was destroyed. There is however Street View from before and after the event showing that the Starbucks no longer exists:


See in Google Maps

To find the locations of the imagery above in Google Earth download 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. Alex Hutchins says:

    Its nice that Google Earth has updated its historical imagery, and certainly there are some useful aspects to it, but what I’ve found so far is that this added imagery is more annoying that anything else. Specifically, I have found that added imagery dates do not carry the same resolution as the imagery dates before and after. Often, individual buildings are unrecognizable as the blurriness is too great when zoomed that far in. I have logged hundreds of hours exploring Japan on Google Earth and love looking at crisp historical data to examine changes in city composition, ect, but now the History tab is clogged with useless, low-res. imagery making it very hard to find the imagery dates that are clear enough to compare to eachother – as I used to often do.

    This is all very annoying and I don’t mean to override the interesting imagery updates also inputted. Do you think it is worth contacting Google Earth customer service about this problem?

  2. It’s great to have updated historical imagery, but not how it is as of today.
    Google has disabled the transition altitude for the Landsat imagery they introduced weeks ago, and now we have it down to ground level, messing up the indicator of the earliest HI date (reads 1984 almost everywhere).
    This also means that when browsing historical imagery we need to manually skip all the low res (or, at altitudes below 3Km, no resolution at all) imagery that is now available in the timeline. What a mess…

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