9 weeks of weather in 3 minutes

There are facts that just aren't apparent from our everyday perspective. Sometimes, in order to really get a scientific concept at the gut level, you have to seek out a different way to view the world. Do that, and you'll find yourself emotionally gobsmacked by well-known concepts you'd long ago accepted intellectually.

For instance, watching this video montage of 9 weeks worth of infrared images from NASA’s GOES-East satellite, the lizard-brain part of me was struck with a sudden realization, "Oh my god. Air really is a fluid, isn't it?"

Thanks to Patrick di Justo for making this and blowing my mind just a little.

Video Link


    1. At that time scale, isn’t everything fluid?

      Years ago (pre-Web) I wanted to create a Super-8 animation from the daily weather maps printed in the NY Times. I lacked the patience to take one frame a day for any length of time it would have required to create more than a couple of seconds of animation, mostly because I had better uses for the camera in the interim and swapping film cartridges without exposing the last frame was a real pain.

      Here’s something I did a while back that show an animation of the continents forming during the past 360 million years on Earth:


  1. Oh, wow. I want a weather app that lets me see this much timelapse so that my intuition can start to process what’s probably going to happen in the next few days.

  2. I did something like this in 2004.. set up a cron job to pull a jpeg from a website that posted radar images, and at the end of it all, compiled it into a movie:


    Around the 7m15s mark, you can see hurricane Katrina spin up and casually dissipate over the eastern US like nothing happened. 

    Curiously, it looks like this guy used the same satellite for source as I did. I wonder how many nerds are out there hoovering these images up and doing cool stuff with them.

  3. “Oh my god. Air really is a fluid, isn’t it?”
    And weather forecasting models are basically simulations of the equations of fluid motion on a rotating sphere. The programmers deserve respect.

  4. What was that weird counter-clockwise storm that appeared from about 1:52-1:58 or so? Seemed like  everything else was acting fairly predictably until that came spinning through.  No wonder the meteorologists often seem like they’re just throwing darts.

  5. Back in the old days of forecasting, we’d get a satellite picture printed out every half hour.  Take a stack them (oldest on top to newest on bottom), then look at them flip-book style to animate.  

  6. this made me think of several things.  mainly, it illustrates how i had to re-write my “gut weather awareness” scripts when i moved from MI to TN when i was about 11.  Going from an always overcast, rain-from-random-directions idiom to a mostly clear, rain-only-from-the-SW idiom.  the first time i was with my Nashvillian godmother when a storm struck, we went to close the windows.  she closed them on 2 sides of the house.  i went for the others.  she said “don’t bother.”  i was completely floored to discover that not only was she right that day, it held for EVERY STORM.

    and re:  “Oh my god. Air really is a fluid, isn’t it?”  that same godmother taught me whitewater canoeing, which familliarized me with how fluids flow around stationary objects.  later, as a city cyclist, i made that mental leap from liquid fluids to gaseous fluids when passing through the lee side of a skyscraper during high winds; then nearly getting floored in a literal sense when i got out of the “eddy” and back into the “current,” so to speak.

    also, the infrared photography is beautiful.

  7. That persistent west-to-east jet stream throughout the whole video is really annoying, if I were president I’d build a massive barrier to make it stop, which would employ about a billion people.
    Economy fixed, annoying jet stream time-lapses eradicated, you’re welcome.

    Seriously, some weather systems seem to roll like dough across the landscape, fascinating stuff.

  8. I like how you can see the night in day going on and off, this is how my electric stove boils water…

  9. Go to http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/GOES/ and click on one of the maps, and you can generate time-lapse of up to 30 frames, which covers a day or so. One can edit the html to modify the frame size, map line colour etc etc. My fav part of the clip is you can see the hotter (darker) gulf stream east of the east coast. That and the illustration that air pollution generated in the deep south reaches the NE in hours. Oh, and, Alabama has some NASTY chemical plants… just sayin..

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