Digital Geography

19. May 2013

Rainfall and weather data on GoogleEarth

On Saturday, some villages near my hometown suffered heavy rains. Up to 100 l/m² arrived during the afternoon and evening in Kirchhasel and other places in central Thuringia. Small streams became rivers and flash flooding occurred, damaging houses, roads, and cars. The local newspaper has an impressive pic dump. Locals say this have been the worst flooding for at least 40 years, so pretty much excitement here, we are not really used to this despite the river Saale caused some heavy floodings in the past. Now it looks like thunderstorms will arrive again:


This is what is left from last nights floodings.



This is what it currently looks like, there are more heavy rains to come.

So I had a reason to think about the question: Where do I get some good weather and precipitation data from? If available, in a nice graphic way?

Well, of course there is Google Maps:


The GoogleMaps weather layer. Not too good, but a start.

GoogleEarth is waaaay better with its great weather overlays. In the past not all of them had data for Germany, but now there is good information.


The real-time cloud layer in Google Earth



If you toggle “information” in the lower left panel, you can also start a cloud animation covering the last few hours.

The GoogleEarth rain radar data overlay, my favourite one.

There’s even a current weather and forecast layer!



If I am interested in some good rain radar data, I usually check the WunderMap by Wunderground.com (which means Weather Underground). There you do not only find world-wide weather data like winds, temperature, precipitation and rain radar, but they also have found a nice way of visualising the data.

The WunderMap rain radar data, plus loads of other data like wind and temperature, too.



Over at Meteox there is another web mapping application with weather and radar data, they are somehow specialized on the UK, though.

Meteox rain radar



If I am in Aachen, I usually have a look at weerradar.nl before I go for a BBQ…

NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) is a very useful data source if you are not interested in too high or low latitude areas (but I am mostly working in the Med area, so I am fine with this). You have access not only to recent rainfall data, but also to older datasets, average precipitation, anomalies and so on.


TRMM data

Data on extreme events, hurricanes, floods, and even landslide risk are available.



Of course they also have a great GoogleEarth overlay:

The TRMM overlay in Google Earth



Make sure to check out the other Precipitation Measurement Missions, too!

PMM data portal



Don’t miss this nice website for getting to know about using GoogleEarth for rainfall data mining: http://serc.carleton.edu/eyesinthesky2/week10/visualize_rain_patterns.html

By the way, all the forecasts were right, it is raining like hell here in Rudolstadt now, and there is plenty of sediment coming down the hills.

Last week when I was in Greece I experienced some very intense rain, too – this is not the stuff I expected there. Maybe I should get paid for avoiding some flood-risk areas…