Google Earth Gets Real-Weather Update

    November 8, 2007

The weather can cause a lot of headaches, and due to its questionable reliability, a new weather-related update to Google Earth might also become a source of frustration.  But with options like “Clouds,” “Radar,” and “Conditions and Forecasts,” the update’s cool factor is likely to outweigh any complaints.

Google’s own Chris Castello explained some of the features in a blog post, writing, “The ‘Clouds’ layer depicts a global satellite mosaic of clouds created on an hourly basis by our friends down the road at the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey. . . . For a special visual treat, try zooming in towards the clouds.  You’ll eventually find yourself below the clouds, at which point you can look up and see the cloud deck above you.”

Castello then continued, “The ‘Radar’ layer contains a near real-time Doppler radar image of the United States, updated every 15 minutes.  This data is being fed to us by the folks at  We will shortly be rolling out radar for Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe as well.”

And as for that last option, “ is also providing us with observation and forecast data for nearly 50,000 cities worldwide; that’s what you see in the ‘Conditions and Forecasts’ layer.”

On the whole, the weather update probably won’t make your local news station redundant, and you’ll still want to keep something like SimpleWeather bookmarked (especially as Google tries to iron out accessibility issues).  This update makes Google Earth a lot more interesting, though, and in the event that anyone’s still thinking about it in terms of a Second Life competitor, it’s also become a lot more realistic.