A screenshot of the Earth simulation of Southern Alberta earlier today
Earlier today, Environment Canada issued a wind warning for southern Alberta, cautioning residents of Okotoks, High River, and Fort Macleod that gusts were expected to reach up to 100 km/h. The photo above shows a representation of what that wind looked like, about 1,500 metres above the surface of the planet.
The image was generated by Earth, a new interactive simulator designed by Tokyo-based software engineer Cameron Beccario. Inspired by a similar wind map of the United States, Beccario put together this much more ambitious interactive globe, which allows you to pan around the planet and watch gusts and eddies in near-real time. (The photos are pretty, but the website itself is truly impressive — make sure to check it out.)
According to The Atlantic Cities, the data from the simulation comes from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction, and is updated about every three hours. The green and yellow streaks represent slower winds, while a storm is represented by purple and crimson hues. The photo below shows a close-up of the Philippines during Taiphoon Haiyan (according to Beccario, who posted the photo on Facebook, the simulation couldn't keep up with the intensity of the winds):
Earth also allows you to set your height above the ground, revealing, for example, the jet stream layer about 10 kilometres up, which speeds up air travel from west to east. As you zoom even further out, you get a sense of the immense strength of the wind up in the stratosphere.