The Google Earth weather layers “Conditions and Forecast” and “Ocean Observations” have been broken for some time. We did a post on it in July this year, but at that time it had already been broken for several months. Google has now announced that it will be dropping the layers from Google Earth on October 10th, 2016.
Dropping the layers is certainly better than leaving them broken in Google Earth, as there is currently no indication that they are not displaying the correct information. What do our readers think of this move? Was the layer useful to you? Would a KML file with similar functionality be useful? Let us know what you think in the comments.
The Google Earth “Conditions and Forecast” and “Ocean Observations” weather layers.
Over the last few weeks we have had several emails from GEB readers saying that the weather information in Google Earth is not accurate. We have compared the temperatures shown in Google Earth with those shown on weather.com, which is listed as the source of the information in the Google Earth popups, and we have found that the figures do not match and in some cases there are significant differences. Last year the weather layers had a similar problem, with the weather data simply not being updated. In that case it was obvious that the issue was a communication problem between Google Earth and the source of the information, as the dates shown in the popups were not being updated, indicating that the data was old. This time, however, the dates shown in the popups are current, but the actual figures are not changing. We checked some locations and although the date shown changes quite regularly the figures displayed in the popups do not. Only the ‘conditions and forecast’ layer is affected as far as we can tell. We verified by comparisons to various websites that the cloud and radar maps are reasonably current.
Despite the name, Snowville, Utah, is actually quite hot this time of year, yet Google Earth gives it 37°F / 3°C.
Weather.com gives its temperatures in the 55°F – 90°F range, so the issue is not one of time of day.
We checked locations on several different continents and the issue seems to be universal.
As a number of GEB readers have noted, some of Google Earth’s weather layers have not been working correctly and as of this writing the data is out of date. The ‘Conditions and Forecasts’ layer has not been updated since May 28th, 2015. The ‘Oceans Observations’ layer has even older data, mostly from 2013. The ‘Clouds’ and ‘Radar’ layers are up to date – see the ‘Information’ layer for exact date and time for each and for animated versions of both layers.
We believe Google is aware of the problem with the ‘Conditions and Forecasts’ layer and is working to resolve it. Because weather information is really only useful when it is current, Google should consider modifying the layer to either give a clear warning message when weather information is out of date, or to replace the old data altogether with a ‘data unavailable’ message.
It is, of course, possible to get weather information from many other sources including weather.com the source Google Earth uses. We have not been able to find any site that gives similar weather information in KML format, but there are a number of different weather resources that are available in that format. A while back Frank made a collection of weather resources and it was updated by Mickey. We have also found that NOAA and NASA provide a variety of weather datasets as KMLs, although they are mostly focused on North America.
DigitalGlobe is one of the leading providers of satellite imagery for Google Earth, and now they’re teaming up with the World Resources Institute to track fires across southeast Asia via their new Global Forest Watch Fires system.
Nigel Sizer, global director of the World Resource Institute’s Forests Program, said, “With DigitalGlobe’s imagery, you can see down to the individual tree level and even identify species. DigitalGlobe imagery is processed as color-infrared, enabling WRI to quickly distinguish between healthy and dead vegetation, draw burn area boundaries, and detect burn scars in order to assign accountability to the fires.”
It’s a great way to use DigitalGlobe’s impressive ability to capture imagery to make a difference in the world.
Hurricane season is here, and Google has recently put out a helpful blog posts with tips for staying safe. Specifically, they suggest three things:
Make sure your phone will receive Public Alerts
Google Public Alerts, launched two years ago, is a tool that sends people alerts from authoritative sources like the U.S. National Weather Service or the Japan Meteorological Agency during emergencies. They’re accessible through the Google search app on your mobile devices and Google Chrome on your computer, as well as in search results for related queries and on Google Maps when relevant.
Install emergency preparedness apps
There are a number of great apps which can help you prepare for or outlast an emergency. For example, a flashlight app can be useful if the power goes out and you don’t have access to a regular flashlight (use a regular flashlight if you can to conserve your phone’s battery). The first-aid and disaster preparedness apps from the Red Cross have a lot of valuable information. And the official FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) app has information on how to stay safe during a disaster, the locations of FEMA disaster recovery stations, and more.
Get helpful gadgets
A waterproof phone case can help protect your phone during floods or heavy rains and a portable solar-powered charger will help keep your phone’s battery alive. It may also be a good idea to invest in a cell phone signal booster which gives you a greater chance of connecting to an operational cell tower.