Note: Post updated December 2014.

Above is a depiction of the weather we’re seeing today — actually a visualization of surface winds as derived from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data and rendered in Web developer Cameron Beccario’s “Earth.” This has been making the rounds for a while (here’s a nice December 2013 write-up from Slate’s Will Oremus). But every time I look at it again, it stirs a sense of wonder. Just check out that low-pressure center spinning to the west of us.

User tips: Click on the “Earth” box at the map’s lower left corner. That opens up the map to a wider view. Click “Earth” again, and you’ll get a bunch of visualization options, including looking at ocean currents or viewing the winds at different atmospheric pressure layers (the view below shows surface winds, but take a look at the 500-millibar level, for instance, to see how fast the winds are moving high overhead). The line marked “control” lets you set the visualization time: click on “Now” to see conditions at the most recent update (the visualization is refreshed from new data every three hours), and click on the arrows to go back in time or forward (future views use data from forecast models).

Note: Originally published Feb. 28, 2014.

  • jdwhitesf

    The website is whacked. Every time I click on the different options, then return to surface at 1000, it’s a different rendering, with the low in a very different location on the ocean. This is total bunk.

    • Dan Brekke

      Not sure what the issue might be, but my guess is that you’re actually seeing renderings of either past or forecast future conditions. Be sure to click on “Now” to see the rendering from the most recent data.

  • norm

    250 hPa setting gives you an amazing visualization of the jet stream

Author

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

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