Useful Features of Google Earth
It may well be that I was the last to know but I have recently discovered new features of Google Earth that I find particularly useful. These may be new features of the most recent release or perhaps they were there all the time.
The RAC website used to have a map displaying live road speed information provided by the Traffic Master roadside camera system. This has since disappeared, perhaps becoming part of the members only section of the website. Whilst using Google Earth recently I noticed a series of dots appear on major routes at a certain level of zoom.
(Click on any image to enlarge)
Clicking on these brings up a bubble which displays the real time average road speed. Additionally, the colour of the dots changes depending on the road speed. Green for normal, yellow for slow, red for very slow and black for almost stopped or worse. If you zoom in further it is possible to distinguish between the traffic speeds going in each direction. It is very easy to check road conditions before setting off on a journey, very useful particularly when about to tow to some distant place. It even works for the French road network.
Another useful feature is that you can see almost real time weather information provided by satellites and the weather radar. Clouds and light rain look like clouds, the heavy rain showers appear as patches of green, becoming more vivid colours for particularly severe conditions. All of these features are updated regularly and so move across the map. There are also little pictorial summaries of the weather conditions and temperature dispersed across the image. At a certain level of zoom these features disappear so that you can see the ground images clearly.
Both the traffic and weather features are selectable from the Layers window that is to the left of the screen by ticking traffic or weather as appropriate in the check boxes.
When combined with the other features, particularly the ability to display slipway information as described in another article, it makes Google Earth a fantastic tool. You might like to enter “Mourao, Portugal” in the Fly To window so that you can explore the new cruising ground of Becky Addy as described so eloquently by Jose in the March 2009 edition of the newsletter. The images were obviously taken before most of the pontoons and other infrastructure were put in place. In fact it must have been shortly after the valleys were flooded as in places you can see trees stood in or perhaps under the water.