Hurricane Hanna is fast approaching the U.S. East Coast with another hurricane. To help keep track of these storms, Google added a “Hurricane Season 2008” folder under “Weather” in Google Earth. In this folder, you’ll find layers for each of the currently active storms of the 2008 Hurricane Season, including hurricanes, cyclones, and tropical storms. These layers, courtesy of the National Hurricane Center, include 72-hour forecasted storm center positions, potential 72-hour storm track areas, and associated advisories (to paraphrase the words of fellow Minnesotan Bob Dylan, they tell you the story of the hurricane).
The forecasted center positions are represented by the hurricane-like icons and correspond in size and shape to the intensity and type of storm. As these are estimated positions, potential storm track areas are also included, represented by the red polygons. These polygons encapsulate the relative uncertaintly of the forecasted center point, so that two-thirds of historical forecast errors for a given timestep fall within this boundary. So in other words, these areas represent the areas most likely to be affected by the storm at a given time.
You might also want to take a look at Weather’s “Clouds” and “Radar” layers as well. In the “Clouds” layer, derived from hourly-updated, satellite-borne observations, you can clearly discern a storms’s distinctive pattern (see below) from other, seemingly amorphous, cloud formations. The “Radar” layer provides ready access to output from 141 National Weather Service and military-operated doppler stations, just like what you might see on your local news. You can see how these active storms are significantly affecting both local and regional weather patterns.
Microsoft had already released “Tracking Hurricane Gustav and Hanna with Virtual Earth”.