Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Earth Stats United States News

Wind Map of US Will Blow You Away 104

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Talk about visualizations. Ever wondered what the wind would look like if you could see it in action from above? A new project posted online by a pair of Google computer scientists, called simply Wind Map, has to be seen to be believed. "It can be quite hypnotizing to watch the gusty trails blast across the American continent, skitter over the Sierras, get roughed up by the Rockies, and whoosh over the great plains on its way to Canada," writes Chris Taylor. Wind Map is the brainchild of Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, the co-leaders of Google's 'Big Picture' visualization research group in Cambridge, Mass. Wind patterns are constantly changing, of course, which is why the Wind Map designers have also given us a moving-image gallery of previous blustery days."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Wind Map of US Will Blow You Away

Comments Filter:
  • Big suction holes west of Dallas and Philadelphia.

  • by chill ( 34294 )

    Canada sucks. Heh. I always wondered what that little nub of Minnesota sticking into Canada was caused by.

    • I think it's fascinating that all along the Minnesota-Ontario border there's a southerly wind at the moment, but at the eastern end it's blown down from Quebec, looped around Chicago and is on it's way back up; in the middle it's come up from Texas, and to the west it's come in from Montana. That must make for some marked shifts of weather within just a few miles, and yet locally the wind would seem to be coming from the same place.
    • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

      Do note the warm front emanating from Washington, D.C.

      • by akboss ( 823334 )

        Do note the warm front emanating from Washington, D.C.

        Warm front?? Currently the maps shows this HUGE sucking in from Columbus south. All being pulled into DC at the moment. As is normal when Congress is in session.

  • I always knew California blew.
  • by slasho81 ( 455509 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @08:46AM (#39533449)
    I'd love to see a Wind overlay on Google Maps all over the world. Would be great for sailing. That's why we need open data.
    • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @09:22AM (#39533591) Homepage Journal

      Wind maps + 7 day forecasts of the world's oceans are widely avalible. When you're sailing you're looking at the big picture of what's causing the wind and where it's headed, so a fine detail tool like Google Maps is sort of a moot point. Wind maps only really make sense on a scale of 1000 miles or more.
        7 day wind forecast of the South Atlantic []

      • by rHBa ( 976986 )
        Not at all, if you're a glider pilot wind maps of 5-10km can be really useful. That's why we have blipmaps [].
    • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @09:32AM (#39533631)
      Have a look at Windfinder []. Quite useful for planning your trips.
    • Forget sailing. It looks like it could be a great tool for figuring out movement of allergens such as pollen through the air, for studying allergy outbreaks.

    • by CBravo ( 35450 )
      There is open data, I download it every day. Rasp operators use it for soaring forecasts: []. Rasp is a pot of glue: It downloads data, data is processed by WRF and visualized by NCL.

      The slight problem is that I need a fast dedicated core i7 machine for it (work in CUDA is in progress). It takes about an hour to do a forecast.

      Last problem: there is NO good installation and configuration method (all knowledge is shared though via a forum / wiki). You get there in t
  • Freakin' awesome! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @08:47AM (#39533453)
    This is incredible technology. Wouldn't you love to have some checkboxes to turn on/off: state borders, topography, jet stream, hi/lo pressure systems, time display...
    • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @09:09AM (#39533547) Journal

      This is incredible technology. Wouldn't you love to have some checkboxes to turn on/off: state borders, topography, jet stream, hi/lo pressure systems, time display...

      Mountain ranges might be an interesting one, perhaps different wind layers as well

      • I was thinking I'd love to see it as a layer in Google Earth, being able to see the wind flowing over and around the topography would be very interesting. I see a few null areas with little wind showing so I plan to check them out in GE to see if some local hills or mountains that I don't remember are creating them.

        • I checked the one weird calm spot in Idaho southeast of Boise. It is a low area surrounded by hills, with a lot of irrigated fields. Now i'm trying to figure out how that causes a still spot in the wind. Something to do with extra humidity from the irrigation making the air in the low area denser and causing a bubble perhaps?
          • by rHBa ( 976986 )
            Depends on the albedo value of the farm land, freshly ploughed fields are usually great for thermal development though. The darker the surface the more heat it absorbs.

            However, damp soil releases its heat much more slowly and won't be so good for strong thermals although they might last a little longer into the evening.
    • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @10:10AM (#39533823) Homepage Journal

      That's why people have focussed on making very fast Javascript engines over the last couple of years -- to enable stuff like this.

    • I'd also like to see large bodies of water. Right next to Salt Lake City is... the Great Salt Lake, and right there is a massive area where the wind just dies. It makes sense (moisture rising, disrupting the existing airflow), but seeing that defined would be awesome.

    • by CBravo ( 35450 )
      maybe not exactly what your are looking for (e.g. a limited area): [] What do you think?
    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      > Wouldn't you love to have some checkboxes to turn on/off: state borders, topography, jet stream, hi/lo pressure
      > systems, time display... ...Zoom out...stop scrolling to the mouse pointer when no buttons zoom in.

      Why doesn't this work like google maps?

    • I'd also like to see the animation speed scaled or scalable to match the map scale/zoom level.

      It sure looks cool, but the animation speed is misleading relative to the actual wind speed.

  • Very cool. If someone mashes it up with a topo map it'll be awesome.

  • Hurricanes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sehryan ( 412731 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @09:02AM (#39533507)

    Personally, I am looking forward to checking out this map during hurricane season. This map is the number one thing I am going back to when a hurricane strikes land here in the US.

    • I'll use it for hurricanes also. This visualization is AWESOME. Excellent work. Thanks for the link - I'll be passing it around.

  • by Eudial ( 590661 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @09:04AM (#39533515)

    What are they eating in San Jose to produce all that wind?! Seriously. Something is seriously wrong. Seek medical attention.

    • That's what you thought of when you looked at the map??

      When I looked at it, I thought, "Eastern US looks like a hairy chest...Western US looks like a long haired woman.".

  • by AtomicSnarl ( 549626 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @09:26AM (#39533611) Homepage
    As a retired weather guy with over 25 years working with and training weathermen, this is one of the best tools I've seen. Applause!

    Understanding fluid flow and visualizing it is not easy, but it crucial to meteorology because that dynamic drives and reveals the mechanisms that create the weather systems we track, such as fronts, storms, and so on. Given the tools seen are usually something like this (from ADDS) [] or this (from CoolWx) [], the WindMap does a much more intuitive job of showing the strength and patterns in merging flow.

    So, well done! The only improvement I can think of for better use operationally would be an hourly looper of, say, the past six hours with a 3-4 second pause for each hour. This would let you track specific features as the day goes on.
    • by siride ( 974284 )

      The Unisys site has had a wind streamlines map for ages: [] lets you make maps with streamlines as well.

      Granted, none of these are animated, but the point is that streamlines are hardly new in the online weather visualization field.

      • Yep, and 30,000 years ago there were people telling stories by drawing on cave walls. Today those cave wall drawing are animated to such a point that people pay $10 to watch them. My point is graphic novels and movies have been around for a long time so why get excited?
    • by fhage ( 596871 )
      Intuitive feel is not really worth much. The ADDS plot shows wind direction, speed to the nearest 2.5kts, gust speeds, pressure, temperature, and local flight rules. Quantitative things a pilot needs to know. Watch the nice animation, but learn to read the plot symbols.

      [rant]As one of the originators of the ADDS web site, and someone with 25+ years writing scientific data visualisation software, I can report that most meteorologists and forecasters are disinterested in this type of presentation. I produ

    • by CBravo ( 35450 )
      Not that they are the first to figure this out: []
  • Google Tax? (Score:4, Funny)

    by popo ( 107611 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @09:41AM (#39533687) Homepage

    Oh... I thought the East-coast was a visualization of tax-dollars.

  • by nbritton ( 823086 ) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @10:01AM (#39533777)

    If you think that's interesting, check out their other project [] (description) and [] (direct link) on their site as well. Please note both links are NSFW.

    Slashdotters are like lab mice that always seek out cocaine, but instead of cocaine, they're focused on little fluffy clouds.

  • Looks cool but what altitude is this? Do they have a map for different altitudes? What layer has the jet stream?
  • I assume that the winds are "surface" winds. It would be interesting to see the wind field at higher altitudes, too. AFAIK a surface low pressure area will have winds blowing into it and above it will be a high altitude high pressure with winds blowing out of it. At least that's how it's been explained to me.

  • The joke in the title blows.

  • This wind map really swept up my interest. It's really cool to see wind wind up on a map like this. I wonder if this will end up getting jet streamed over to an app of some kind? It would be quite the windward sight.
  • This is what it looks like when you don't trim your beard.

  • What I want is to get a law passed that you can put your solar panels up anywhere in state and get paid back in terms of tax credits and local rates as if they were on your house. The idea of putting panels up west of the Cascades seems insane to me. There are transmission lines that pass through the SE of Oregon, the highest solar index and now I see the highest wind speed.

    But it is all bullshit compared to the jet stream. Check out [] The only problem with it is that

  • I caught this the other night after taking my Ambien. Ohhh...

  • Because Oklahoma sucks and Nebraska blows. NyuckNyuckNyuckNyuckNyuck
  • what more needs to be said?

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus