We all love Google Earth, right? Who doesn’t like to zoom in on our home town, see our own roof, where we go to school, or where we work?
As it turns out, Google Earth is good for even MORE than just zooming around or even finding places of interest including your home (check out past MakeUseOf articles about Google Earth such as How Often Is Google Earth Updated? and How To Use Google Earth To Investigate Conspiracy Theories). Now you can also keep an eye on the current weather with Google Earth live radar!
In this article, I would like to show you two main methods of keeping an eye on the weather with Google Earth radar. First I will show you the weather feature Google Earth already has built in. I will then show you how to find, download, and open a specific radar image file for your own location.
Google Earth’s Built In Weather Layer Feature
This is a very easy process because Google Earth has this layer built in and ready to use. If it’s not already visible, open the sidebar within Google Earth.
You’ll find the weather layer in the layers tab.
It has three layers you can show: clouds, radar, and conditions and forecasts. There is also an Information link that will not only give you more (you guessed it) information about how the weather data is gathered, but also the time of the last clouds and radar image. You can also download weather animations there.
What you’ll get if all layers are checked is a visual of where clouds are calculated to show up, some boxy splotches indicating radar imagery, and icons showing current weather conditions.
Notice that weather conditions are NEAR real time and the conditions I saw were approximately 2 hours before. Pretty good if you ask me!
Download & View A Google Earth Live Radar Image
Although viewing a radar image is a lot more real time, you may want to still show the conditions and forecasts layer for, well, conditions and forecasts because the radar image will likely only show the radar.
First do a search for “weather radar kmz”
I’m personally from North America so I hit up the radar.weather.gov site. You can also search for your own area to see what’s available.
From this site I was able to find the image for my state and chose the radar image to my liking, hit submit, and downloaded the KMZ file.
I created a specific folder in a place I can find it to keep my Google Earth downloads so I stuck the KMZ file in there. Next, head on over to Google Earth and open the KMZ file.
You’ll then get to see the nifty loading icons.
Once loaded you’ll see the radar image. This particular map shows the color temperature key for me:)
You may ask the question, “Why go through the bother of finding, downloading, and opening a KMZ weather radar image if Google Earth already has a weather layer built right in?” It comes down to how current the updates are. The KMZ radar map I was able to find for my area (North America) is updated approximately every 2 minutes. Google Earth grabs its data from Weather.com and may not be updated as often. Also, radar imagery from Weather.com may not be available in every area and you may be able to find and download it for your own specific area.
Like I said before, you can still enable weather forecasts, etc. layers and still open your KMZ file and have the best of both worlds!
Interested in more weather options? Check out these free weather apps and sites for forecasts and fun or how to integrate weather data on your homepage with Weatherstack API.