1. Typhoon Information for Google Earth

For Google Earth, we started to provide typhoon information in KML (Keyhole Markup Language) Network Link. The outline of getting started is summarized in the following, but it is likely that the detail may differ for some versions.

  1. Install Google Earth, and click the following URL (that ends with kml or kmz).
  2. If the system is configured properly, Google Earth will automatically start and show a satellite image on the window.
  3. You will see "Network Link" within "Places," so you can choose the visibility of satellite images and typhoon information by expanding and shrinking the menu.
  4. For satellite images, you can change the opacity of the image by using the slide bar appearing on the bottom of "Places."
  5. Data are automatically updated in every 3600 seconds (1 hour), but for manual updating, you choose "Refresh" from a right-clicking menu appearing on the item.

Please note that you can also see typhoon tracks on Google Maps at Typhoon Track Forecast, in addition to Google Earth.

Geostationary Meteorological Satellite Imagery

The latest geostationary meteorological satellite "Himawari" images (60N - 60S / 80E - 160W) are automatically updated every one hour. The satellite has four infrared channels, and the infrared channel 1 is visible by default. To see background behind satellite images, you can change the transparency slider to find the best mixing.


The capability of time scale (time line), available on Google Earth 4, is useful for viewing the movement of clouds as animation. The following link provides images of the latest 24 hours to be viewed as animation. It is, however, not likely to be viewed smoothly due to the size of sequence images, so you should, as much as possible, to use Regional Magnified Images and use Google Earth animations therein.


Currently Active Typhoon Information + Geostationary Meteorological Satellite Imagery

Information about currently active typhoons is overlayed on the latest "Himawari" satellite images. Again the infrared channel 1 is the default visible background image with the update frequency of one hour. Typhoon information from Japan Meteorological Agency is updated every three hours.


If you would like to try animation (timeline), which is one of the capabilities appeared on Google Earth 4, you can try the following link. I would recommend more to try the link in "Past Tropical Cyclone Information" just below (September 14, 2006).


Please note that the Google Earth version only offers past information of currently active storms. To see the forecast information, please refer to the Google Maps version of typhoon track forecast.

Past Tropical Cyclone Information

Tropical cyclone information for past typhoons and cyclones is also available. Please follow a link "View on Google Earth" on "Pressure and Track Map" pages. Past tropical cyclones can be retrieved from typhoons by typhoon season, and typhoon tracks of recent years are also provided in the following KMZ.


Typhoon information for the past five years : 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, show the track of typhoons by year.

You can also try animation (timeline) for this link. I guess this link is more interesting as an animation (September 14, 2006).


In the same way, typhoon information for the past five years is : 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, show the track of typhoons by year.

Finally, the following KMZ file displays all typhoons since 1951. Please note, however, that this dataset is so huge that it may lead to the crash of software or system, and this is difficult to understand because of too many typhoons. So I do not recommend you to see this data.


AMeDAS Precipitation and Wind for Past Typhoons

The distribution of AMeDAS precipitation and wind for past typhoons (after 1976) can be seen on the "disaster information," which can be accessed through the page of general information on each typhoon (e.g. the disaster information of Typhoon 200514). In "Google Earth KMZ" links appearing on the page, the height is proportional to the intensity of the observed value of the respective meteorological element, and they are displayed in following colors: the top 10 is red, the top 50 is orange, the top 200 is yellow, and others are in white.

And also for this data, we took advantage of the animation (timeline), in which the movement of the typhoon is synchronized with the change of AMeDAS precipitation and wind. Please look at "Precipitation Animation" and "Wind Animation." Note that these files are very heavy, so you may encounter some troubles when the memory of the machine is not enough.

Regional Magnified Meteorological Satellite Images

KML files for meteorological satellite images magnified for regions are listed in the Meteorological Satellite Imagery: Regional Magnified Images page. Google Earth animation (timeline) can also be used on this page, and you can see the movement of clouds on Google Earth.

AMeDAS Station

KML files for each AMeDAS station are prepared under the pages of AMeDAS Statistics in the form of a link named "Google Earth KML." You can easily check the topography and the landscape of AMeDAS stations from various viewpoints.

But be careful when you verify the location of an AMeDAS station. For example take a look at AMeDAS station 44131 (Tokyo). If you click on the link Google Earth KML, you will find that the icon of the AMeDAS station appears in the middle of a wide road. Apparently it should not be located in this kind of place. In fact, it is located in the lawn space which is in the upper right direction from the icon beyond the building (when the north is upward), just beside the headquarter of Japan Meteorological Agency. The distance between the icon and the real place is about 120 meters (The true position can be checked with the Google Earth KML on this page).

Why do we have such a shift of location? This is because the location of each AMeDAS station in latitude and longitude is published by the precision of 0.1 minute, and this is not so precise to locate the place. The 0.1 minute precision means that we could have at maximum 0.05 minute = 3 seconds error for both West-East and North-South directions. This amounts to the error of about 120 meters in Tokyo. This is the reason of different locations between the icon and the real place. You should not believe that the AMeDAS station is just located at the place of the icon, but understand instead that it is located somewhere within 100 meters from the location of the icon.

Participatory Media

Eyephoon is a typhoon information site by participatory media, and is collecting local typhoon information with geographic location from the general public. This site provides KML to view local typhoon information with typhoon track information on Google Earth.

A page showling the list of trackbacks for each typhoon has the link "View on Google Earth" below a simple map of Japan. It shows the location of trackbacks and the track of the typhoon both on Google Earth. If you follow the link "View on Google Earth (Animation)," it shows the location of trackbacks and the movement of the typhoon as an animation, so you can see how new trackbacks are added as time goes. In terms of the quality of animation, however, I recommend you to see Typhoon Front instead.

Icons of prefectures are displayed at the location of the headquarter, and icons of municipal governments are displayed at the representative point, when the trackbacks are sent to us with municipal governments or zip codes. Sometimes the place of an icon is not the best position, because all the procedures have been done automatically. Please refer to CSV geocoding service (University of Tokyo) for more information.

Past Typhoon Disaster Data

Weather Disaster Database is the database of weather anomalies and disasters data provided by Japan Meteorological Agency, and this site provides KML to display the result of search on Google Earth. The list of disasters is aggregated by the prefecture level, and you can see the distribution of disasters and the list of disasters by prefectures.

If you set search criteria, you see the result, and there is a link to view the result on Google Earth. All information, however, is provided in Japanese on this database, because the original dataset is solely written in Japanese.

Bugs and Troubles

  1. If you use Google Earth 4 and geostationary satellite images are flashing, then you check Tools > Options > Cache and increase "Memory Cache Size" (e.g. 256) to remedy the problem.
  2. The animation (timeline) can be used in "really" new Google Earth 4, so you must update your Google Earth to the latest version. Please note that this update may not be detected by "Check for Updates Online."

2. KML Related to Meteorological, Geographic and Earth Science Information

Here is the link collection of KML related to meteorological, geographic, and earth science information. To realize syndication services for these applications, a traditional approach was to add geographic information to a simple format such RSS. But, in the future, syndication services may be transformed to another format which is originally designed for geographic or spatial information such as KML, which is to be browsed by a KML reader such as Google Earth.

3. Google Maps Version

These files can also be viewed on Google Maps by reading KML/KMZ files on Google Maps. The following pages, in addition, also provide information using Google Maps.

  1. Typhoon Track Forecast
  2. Real-time AMeDAS Precipitation Maps
  3. Real-time AMeDAS Wind Maps
  4. AMeDAS Event Detection
  5. Real-time Weather Radar GPV Images
  6. Twiphoon
  7. Typhoon Now!

4. Other Applications

A new hot topic of Google Earth 4 is a new layer to display old maps on Gooogle Earth 4, and I am also involved in another project that provides an old map layer since June, 2006. This project provides high resolution zooming of wide-area old maps using Super-Overlay, and Google Earth animation of the seasonal change of Silk roads using Blue Marble Next Generation. This is not related to typhoon information, but I welcome you to have a look at following pages.

5. NASA World Wind

NASA World Wind now support many of the KML/KMZ tags, so please also try this browser if you are interested. We are planning to support World Wind more on the browsing of data using WMS (Web Map Service).