Sunday, October 18, 2015

Best Northwest Weather Webcams

One of the great advances in weather observations during the past few years has been the advent of high-definition weather webcams that allows one to enjoy high-resolution views of sky, usually including informative animations.    In addition, there has been an explosion of moderate-resolution webcams all over the region and nation that allows one to explore the weather virtually.
Even professional meteorologists such as myself, sometimes want more than model output, satellite imagery, surface observations, and radar.  To see what the weather actually looks like!  So where can one go to explore the weather visually?

My favorite local cam is the SpaceNeedleCam, which affords a high-definition, 360 degree view from the top of the Space Needle, with animations and the ability to go back in time.  You can't do better than that!  Here are a few samples:

You can use your mouse to rotate around.  In the top picture, you see the Olympics, extensive cirrostratus clouds, and contrails.  The bottom shows Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the distance.  Rapture.

My second favorite site is the SkunkBayWeatherCam, located on the northern Kitsap Peninsula, looking northward.  Run by cam-guru Greg Johnson, this website is home to the only triple weather webcam that I know about.  What is so wonderful about this site, is you can view the impact of changing weather on the water surface, the sky, and a flag/tree combination in the foreground (see example).

Often, this cam shows auroras, cruise ship passages, and aircraft aloft.   Greg is as close to a weather-cam artist as exists and has put together same emotionally moving sequences to music, like one here.  His masterpiece (11 minutes long) is found here. The guy is a cam poet.  I am trying to convince him to establish a 360 degree capability.

For a more regional view, my favorite is the Washington Department of Transportation WeatherCam site (see below).   You can click on cams and see the image on the right.  And if you want more cams, you can zoom in using the red box (as shown below).

Oregon DOT has a similar site:

Some private firms are collecting large numbers of weather webcams and making them available on a single website.   Perhaps the most extensive is the weathreunderground webcam site, which provides access to thousands of webcam images, including animation (see below).  This site is a little awkward

to use and the images are degraded, but it is still very useful.  And there are several others, albeit not as comprehensive.

The bottom lines is that there are tens of thousands of cams online today and they serve as a potent tool for exploring the weather.

But no one has really gotten the interface right yet.

I have a lot of ideas if someone want to build an app that would provide a substantially better experience.  To do so would require the ability to store thousands of webcam images a day from around the world at full resolution and to determine which ones were bad or during the night.  And the interface would allow fluid exploration of the webcams in the chosen area.  And it would need a good name, like SkyExplorer, WeatherWindow, or something like that.

Want to get really hi-tech?  Use sophisticated image interpretation software to derive quantitative weather information from the images....but that deserves another blog.


Unknown said...

You should check out Bloomsky as well. I have one on my deck looking at the Cap Hill Radio Towers.

Pierre Sodbinow said...

This North Bend webcam is awesome. It's my "go to" cam for weather on the far Eastside. It has a live view and is continuous. Often when the lowlands are in fog and low stratus, the North Bend area is just above the mist. Don't know who runs it, so I cannot credit them. But here is the link:

db said...

A couple of others for points down the coast and elsewhere:

San Francisco Bay (from the Berkeley Hills and not unlike the space cam in scope):

Point Reyes (North Bay Coast):
Los Angeles:

Locales with one day driving distance of Seattle:
Columbia River (Hood Canal):
Pasayten Wilderness (North Central WA near Twisp):
Vancouver B.C. (Westin Hotel - Coal Harbor):
Vancouver B.C. (Jericho Beach):

Mount Rainer's NPS Home Page has many links:
Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park:

many other NPS Park sites, including Yellowstone: Grand Tetons; North Cascades;

Canyonlands National Park:

USFS sites, some within a day or two of Seattle (give a good idea on snow cover, etc.):

Jono Manion said...

The Bellingham Herald has a nice webcam plus links to other cams in the area. They only photoshop in Godzilla around April. Check it out.

First Last said...

The Poulsbo Marina/Harbor cam which I believe is run by Longship Marine is spectacular:

Unknown said...

NOAA has a site with some coastal bar cameras:

Too bad they are still pictures.

Unknown said...

Could you possibly leave a permanent link to this post in your main side bar? I'm sure many of us would like to access it on an ongoing basis. Thanks!!!

Josh Jorgensen said...

H. Burns said...

Here is a popular page for live mountain and river views around Washington. It's been there for years. Check it out!

H. Burns said...

Here is a popular page of live river and mountain views around Washington State. It's been around for years.

drysider said...

A site of Washington webcams of help to me is the WSDOT Aviation site of airport cams across the state...

Paul Nickelson said...

Cliff, This thread of the use of multiple sensors for reporting is a parallel to my question a year or so ago about whether the sophisticated weather radars on aircraft could network data to eliminate the radar holes across the U.S., East of the Cascades and off our coast to the North. You replied that you would ask some of your tech associates about it and wondering whether anything came of that idea?

Paul in Kent, Wa.

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