Animations of the Atmosphere

As a lover of the atmosphere and sun, I want to see how light and sky change over the course of the day. I also want to see how large-area weather events, such as the passage of a front, impact different places in the Great Smoky mountains. The inspiration behind this page was a desire to record weather changes at different elevations on a mountain and to help the photographer in me better understand a secretive and dynamic landscape.

Enter Yesterday: a site of prior-day animations of federal web cams and satellite imagery located here at Note this page always shows conditions for the prior day since they are full-day timelines.

The Great Smokies have about one mile of vertical relief and weather conditions can be dramatically different depending on your elevation. Whatever it’s a line of thunderstorms or fog in the valleys on a calm morning, this is a visual record of evolving conditions…only of course it happens during daylight. For the weather nut who likes to take it a step further, the page gives data from park’s 5 weather stations for the same day….and it’s all archived.

How was it done? After tinkering with ImageMagick and FFmpeg, I made a script that creates full-day animations of the webcams in the Great Smokies and visible satellite images from NOAA. What will it become? Consider it a visual archive of the atmosphere and movements of the Sun in the Great Smokies. Any suggestions are welcome.

Some notes for updates: I haven’t fully utilized the flash embedded video (see the two samples below, top is animated gif and below is embedded flash video). The problem is setting animations in sync together, e.g., sun rises at the same time in all movies. With an animated .gif, I think you simply need to refresh your browser after all of the images are loaded to get a partial sync. A better solution is out there. I can also increase the sampling rate for smoother play; now it’s two samples an hour.

Weather map and webcam animation for the Great Smoky Mountains

Weather map and webcam animation for the Great Smokies

[flv: 400 290]

These are also archived, so if you go to the smokies for a backcountry trip, you’ll be able to find your days here.

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