Weather archive updates

We collect imagery from national park webcams in the Great Smokies and Mammoth Cave parks and then make animated gifs of those webcam images. In 2011, I penciled this quick note:

110629 Nice time-lapse photography for all cameras and satellite. Make movie?

Beginning in 2012, we started archiving these animations.

New webcam added to animation archive

Turns out, we had Mammoth Cave working for the entire 2021 year, but didn’t have them accessible via a web page. With a little grep and sed action, the gifs were added to the default page for the Great Smokies archive. Visit the interface here.

Weather and animation archive

We plan on having at least the last year covered in the archive. At 60 GB a year now with HD cameras, it can get expensive hosting multiple years. I do have the years back to 2012 stored offline.

New images and data from GOES-16

Visit the page to view and download imagery

Over Christmas break, it was time to automate collecting and displaying the incredibly detailed imagery from the GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager. A problem that plagued previous efforts was not accessing the raw data, a netCDF formatted file for the contiguous U.S. which can be downloaded freely from a variety of cloud data hosts. With the raw data, one can project, modify and use it in web mapping libraries like Leaflet.

This page offers a slippy map of grayscale and color imagery and is updated every 15 minutes. You can download GeoTIFFs of rendered layers that can be used in GIS applications.

Great Smokies solar eclipse images and animations

2:45pm looking across Rich Mountain and Cades Cove

For over a decade we’ve collected views from reliable weather web cams to build daily time-lapse animations for the Great Smoky Mountains. We’ve called the project Yesterday in the Great Smokies and offer a daily archive for the past three calendar years.

The August total solar eclipse in the southern Great Smokies offered a great opportunity to showcase some unique images from the archive.  [Read more…]

Weather station almost full!

Happy New Year to you! We invite you to our four year anniversary of documenting weather animations in the Great Smokies. When we move into 2016, we’ll cycle out the observations for 2012. Over the past dozen years we’ve documented weather for areas our maps cover. More recently, we’ve offered an online media library of webcam and satellite animations and daily weather summaries for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. They’re offered as animated GIFs for three webcams and a visual GOES satellite for the region.

Four years of webcam animations

Four years of webcam animations

In short few hours, we’ll have four complete years of these webcams. If you need a nice sunset or sunrise, feel free to explore the archive.

As we look to the future, we’re excited to investigate the public data that many personal weather stations are feedings services like Weather Underground and Netatmo. We’ll start aggregating weather station data for our hiking areas and offer it here. That’s a goal for 2016!

New Weather Graphs

Weekly graphs of weather variables

Weekly graphs of weather variables

Weather Underground’s weather stations are an awesome resource. Volunteers with weather stations feed their observations to site’s ‘big brain’ and make it publically available. We inserted weekly weather graphs for two stations near the Great Smokies; one on the west side in Tennessee and the other on the east side in North Carolina. Visit our GRSM weather page and tell us what you think.

Cold Mountain web cam back up

Cold Mountain in May

Cold Mountain in May

After a severe winter, the Cold Mountain webcam is back in operation. As we move into summer, we hope all cams remain healthy so we can collect and archive animated scenes.

What we have now is pure spring delight, so please enjoy.

Kentucky transitions into fall

MODIS images of changing seasons in Kentucky, 2013

MODIS images of changing seasons in Kentucky, 2013


These satellite images are from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on two satellites, Aqua and Terra. MODIS captures 36 electromagnetic wavelength bands to measure atmospheric water vapor, ozone, aerosols, land fire, surface temperature, and many other important variables of global climate. These images are visible light and clearly show the change in deciduous canopy cover within roughly a month of time. Spatial resolutions are between 250 m to 1 km.

Tale of Two Years

We have a late spring this year and you can see it with the Look Rock webcam. The first image is from April 1, 2013 and doesn’t show much greening of the trees. The second image is an animation from April 1, 2012 and you can quickly notice much more tender green.

[Read more…]

Early Spring Snow in the Great Smokies

Snow on Mt. LeConte

In winters past, the highlands of the Great Smokies could expect an average of 8-10 feet of snow. This winter we’ve had much less, though the average temperatures have about normal. On March 26, however, we saw a dramatic snowfall with Mt. LeConte getting about 20″ in one storm with little snowfall at lower elevations. These images clearly show the snow line and give a unique feeling to the mountain scenery.

[Read more…]

New GPS and PDF maps for the Great Smokies

We are introducing our new map and GPS datapack series for the Great Smoky Mountains. We’ve created an easily printable map for every trail listed in the Great Smoky Mountains Association’s Hiking Trails of the Smokies, the brown book, also known as the “Hikers’ Brown Bible.”

Our maps show forest canopy cover, trail intersection elevations, and mileage between intersections & backcountry campsites, all at 1:50,000 scale. Our GPS data is the most detailed and current data available. We’ve structured the GPX file so you can easily select your hike and save it to your mobile device or GPS unit. Our maps are offered as a printable, 8×10 PDF file with each page centered on the listed hike. Print your maps and save them to your mobile device, but never worry about losing or damaging your map again!

Currently we are offering two regions, Cades Cove and Cosby & Greenbrier.

Trails in the Cades Cove region: Abrams Falls, Ace Gap, Anthony Creek, Appalachian Trail, Beard Cane, Bote Mountain, Cades Cove Nature, Cane Creek, Cooper Road, Crib Gap, Crooked Arm Ridge, Finley Cane, Goldmine, Gregory Bald, Gregory Ridge, Hannah Mountain, Hatcher Mountain, Indian Grave Gap, Lead Cove, Little Bottoms, Rabbit Creek, Rich Mountain, Rich Mountain Loop, Russell Field, Schoolhouse Gap, Scott Mountain, Turkeypen Ridge, West Prong, Wet Bottom.

Trails in the Cosby & Greenbrier regions: Albright Grove, Appalachian Trail, Brushy Mountain, Camel Gap, Cosby Nature, Gabes Mountain, Grapeyard Ridge, Low Gap, Lower Mt Cammerer, Maddron Bald, Mt Cammerer, Old Settlers, Porters Creek, Ramsey Cascades, Snake Den Ridge.

First snowfall in the Great Smokies

From the Purchase Knob webcam, we can see the first dusting on snow in the Great Smokies. Mark the date, October 20. Though not much is seen here, the intense storm, which is our first midlatitude cyclone of the season, might produce a little more snowfall overnight and more at higher elevations. We will check the gauge at Mt. LeConte tomorrow and see how much they got. Winter is here in the highlands. [Read more…]

Road Closure Info for the Great Smokies

Planning a spring trip to the Great Smokies? We’ve collected and posted official updates on road closures on our weather page.

A day of weather in the Great Smokies

A somber late-winter day from Look Rock mountain overlook, March 5, 2011. [Read more…]

Archive of Webcam Animations

In the spring of 2009, I wrote a couple scripts to automate collecting webcam and visual satellite images of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and creating animations from them. Recently I put the archive of those animations online after a few requests. The archive also records the past 24-hour temperatures, precipitation, and snow depth for the day selected.

Questions like, when’s a good time to see fall colors, can be now be answered with a visual assessment from last year’s observations. Combare the days between October 10 and October 22, 2009, for a good answer. Between those days, the smokies received its first snowfall.

The archive can be found here:

Webcams for Great Smoky Mountains

After a few months of intermittent outage, the four webcams that cover the Great Smokies are all working. Now we can compare sky conditions on both sides of the mountain and also observe sunrise and sunset. The webcam animations also work, too!

You can view these webcams on our weather page:


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