VirtualEarth Feed

NOAA's First Rita Photos Out, Plus GoogleEarth Overlay from Carnegie Mellon

NoaaritaGlobal ConnectionThe NOAA's first post-Rita photos are up:

NOAA today posted online more than 1,100 aerial images of the U.S. Gulf Coast areas in the path of Hurricane Rita. The regions photographed on Sunday covered the coastal regions of Louisiana and Texas. The aerial photography missions were conducted by the NOAA Remote Sensing Division the day after the center of Rita made landfall at approximately 3:30 a.m. EDT on the extreme southwest coast of Louisiana between Sabine Pass, Texas, and Johnson's Bayou in Louisiana.

And Carnegie Mellon has processed them as a GoogleEarth Overlay. (For more info on how to use it, see Brent's Computer Tutorials.)

Note that the photos cover only the coastal areas of the area hardest hit.

Now, can GoogleMaps please acquire some better satellite photos of the rural coastal areas as a basis of comparison? Surely, Digital Globe has some on hand? And something more recent than the late 90s? VirtualEarth seems to have some USGS black and white images of the coastal areas that are a bit better.

(Thanks, Anne Wright of the NASA Ames Research Center.)

PS: Just so you know, so far, this is a harder problem than doing house-by-house phtographic damage assessment on NOLA. If you are trying to do this and getting frustrated, ask for help and we'll see what we can do. But this is not a solved problem yet.


  1. Brent has just finihed his how-to guide on using GoogleEarth to assess damage from Rita.
  2. Anne Wright of the Global Connection Project NASA Ames Research Center says:

Updated NOAA Rita overlays for Google Earth are now available from Images courtesy of NOAA.

This revision includes approx 2,100 NOAA images from 9/25 - 9/26, and includes links to full resolution 4k x 4k overlays, as well as subsampled overlays which may load more quickly.  The new data covers more inland areas around Port Arthur and Orange.

UPDATE 9/30: VirtualEarth now has a Rita site up.

Rita Satellite & Aerial Surveys?

Cameron_la_1[UPDATE: See NOAA's First Rita Photos Out, Plus GoogleEarth Overlay from Carnegie Mellon.]

Anyone know when and whether there will be coherent aerial and satellite images of areas hit by Rita? People have been asking me how they can check on houses damaged by Rita, but it seems we don't have a ready source of pictures yet. I've been checking NOAA, Digital Globe, VirtualEarth, etc. and haven't seen anything yet. Digital Globe's site has a message that suggests there are going to be photos, though they don't say when or what areas they'll cover.

DigitalGlobe is working hard to prepare for the landfall of Hurricane Rita, and will make every effort to maximize the collection of QuickBird Satellite Imagery over the impacted areas.

(Image of Cameron, LA from AP via CNN.)


Advances in Katrina Map Technology

Mapwise, a lot seems to be happening.

First of all, the New Improved! Clickable Depth Map (aka the C&C Technologies New Orleans Flood Map) now has an address field! Hooray! (Now you don't have to go into Goggle Maps first in order to pin-point and address before using the depth map.)

Secondly Microsoft's VirtualEarth has joined the effort. Today I got t his message from a Program Manager:

After the Hurricane, a number of us began a project to show before and after imagery in an effort to help victims discover if their homes are under water. Instead of relying on low res satellite imagery, we worked with a company who specializes in low altitude oblique imagery which gives a MUCH more useful view of the area. Anyway, we just got the results of this effort online yesterday at msnbc. I hope you find it helpful.

I tried the site in both Safari and Firefox (G5 Mac; OSX Tiger). On neither broswer did their aerial photos display properly, although the bugs were different. But the project only launched yesterday, and I could see what they were trying to do, which looks very promising.It might work for you today. Or it might work for you next week when they get a few kinks out of it.  Very promising.

UPDATE: My correspondent suggests the following to get around browser incompatibility issues:

Here is an idea since images aren’t displaying for you in the browser properly. At the end of the day, Eagle Eye images are standard JPG images. You can view them in any picture viewer, not just the online viewer we built at MSNBC. If you right click (or whatever the Mac equiv is) on an image that didn’t display, you can see the full URL for the image. You can just enter that URL in your browser to display it. Like this:

The image he links to I find quite affecting. The boats look like toys forgotten by careless children, an odd collision in the semantics of scale.


FURTHER UPATE: The folks at Microsoft have volunteer to take care of my current address query  load, so current inquries have been passed along to them. I've been working on a bit of a case of eye strain, so it comes at a good time.