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


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at

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