Aquila Systems, Inc.
Although the instructions are lengthy it is important to read them and refer to them as necessary to use
Where's It Cloudy most effectively. If you would prefer to read these on a larger screen (in a web browser)
visit www.aquilasys.com and click on "Where's It Cloudy Usage".
Where's It Cloudy allows, as the name implies, the user to see in great detail where it is cloudy
anywhere in the Eastern two thirds of the United States and Southeast Canada and Northeast Mexico. In
addition it allows users to see where it is likely raining and monitor the formation of thunderstorm cells.
During Hurricane season you can see in vivid detail Hurricanes as they approach the Eastern sea board.
Many Weather applications and web sites allow you to view radar data which is great to show you where
it is raining as that is what radar detects but radar is not capable of "seeing" where the clouds are.
Although knowing where it is raining is important where it is cloudy can be very important in planning
activities that are best done when the sun is shining. When a warm front is passing the large area of
clouds can lead to rain at any time as a result knowing when it will get cloudy can allow you to plan on
when the risk of periodic rain showers is likely.
The image data comes directly from the U.S. GOES satellite launched by NASA and operated by NOAA.
As we get the imagery directly from the imaging satellite the latency from when the U.S. is imaged to
when we make the images available to you is a matter of minutes versus twenty minutes to an hour for
imagery that is processed through most weather services.
Where's It Cloudy allows you zoom it to the maximum detail available in the satellite imagery and select
the data you wish to view by making simple selections. The Where's It Cloudy "cloud server", pun
intended, renders the data you requested at the resolution you selected and the image size that matches
your phone. So you are not just getting a predefined regional view at a predefined and typically course
resolution. You are getting a loop of images specifically created to match your selections and device.
Looking at the high resolution Visible channel imagery during the day is the most effective way to see
where it is currently cloudy. In most cases you will request Where's it Cloudy to produce a series of time
lapse images covering the past hour or more in this way you can see the approximate speed and
direction that the clouds are moving. The Visible channel is not available at night as the satellite needs
sun light to see in the Visible channel this is usually not an issue as where it cloudy or not logistically
makes the most difference during the day. If you select the Visible channel at night it will say that "No
Satellite Images are Available That Meet Request".
You can select the Infrared channel to see clouds that are in the upper atmosphere at night. The Infrared
channels is essentially seeing "temperatures" so it works all the time. This will not show you where it is
cloudy as effectively as the visible channel as many clouds are too low in the atmosphere to be detected
in this channel. However the clouds it does show are higher in the atmosphere and are more likely to
produce rain. In the Infrared channel you can select a number of colorized enhancements that show
where the colder temperatures are and therefore the clouds that are higher in the atmosphere.
The Infrared channel can effectively show the development of convective systems (thunderstorm cells)
and when you begin to see a peaking of this development and it starting too diminish this is a strong
indication that the convective cell is producing a thunderstorm. The larger the cell and the colder it gets
the more likely it is to be a severe thunderstorm with high winds and hail.
Other valuable spectral channels and derived information are available to users who donate to Aquila
Systems. See our web site for more details on this and other advantages of donating.
You can vividly see hurricanes and even their rotation by simply getting the latitude and longitude from
any of a number of web sites that track hurricanes and putting this location into Where's It Cloudy. The
Visible channel properly zoomed can make for a vivid picture of the hurricane and the Infrared channel
can show you where the bulk of the rain producing areas are.
As we generate each loop (series of images) based on your setting it takes some time (a few seconds to
do this) as we are creating high quality imagery it takes several seconds to download even over 3G or
WiFi to entertain you while you wait for the imagery we cycle through short random loop of our corporate
sponsor's so you can appreciate who is providing the funding to bring you this capability. As soon as the
image loop has been downloaded we begin to show it typically 5-15 seconds over WiFi or 3G but it could
be much longer during periods of heavy load or less than 3G connectivity. We provide an approximate
countdown timer that is based on 3G or WiFi connectivity.
Using Where's It Cloudy
Usage is simple when the application is started you can choose either a Location or a View ultimately
you may want to do both. Location is most important as by default the View will be the Visible channel
with minimal overlay annotation.
Press menu and select "Location" to bring up the location selection box. You have three options to
select the location that will be the center of the image. The first is to simply choose your current location
by pressing "Use Current Location". The next option is to pick a state and city. The last option is to
select or enter a latitude and longitude.
Note that if you pick a location not covered by satellite imagery you will not get any images. Typically
latitudes between 20-60 degrees North and longitudes between 60-120 degrees West will produce
The final element to select is the altitude you are viewing the Earth from. If you want to see most of the
hemisphere pick 5000 miles, if you want to see most of the country pick 2000 miles, if you want to see
your region of the country pick 500 miles, and if you want to see your area in great detail choose 100-200
To select a View of the same location and altitude select "View" from the menu. You can then select the
image channel or type, the colorization and enhancement, and a number of annotations that can alter or
appear on top of the satellite image. The two image types you can select between are
Visible and Infrared the meaning and differences of which have been discussed above. For each type you
can choose an enhancement for visible there are only two one of which shows it as the satellite sees it
and one which brightens clouds and enhances land detail. For the Infrared channel there are a number of
enhancements that use a different color palette to represent the temperatures.
You can select a number of images to have in your loop or time lapse animation. More images can give a
better idea of storm development and movement but will take longer to load. Users who donate can select
to have up to 30 images in their loop. You may not always get the number you select if some of the most
recent images do not meet the criteria an example is selecting Visible imagery just after dark.
The annotation options are selected by checking the desired annotations as follows:
City Mode- Major and some minor cities can be displayed by selecting the appropriate city mode each
step is progressive so Minor + Label shows major and minor cities with labels. The labels are a two letter
code we choose that should make the city obvious to people who know the area. These same cities are
available in the location selection so in case you are wondering what lat/lon we call the "city center"
select it in the location dialog.
Tru Sat Image - When checked shows the True satellite image enhanced as selected versus only
showing the clouds with a rendered underlay. This can be used to show land detail in the Visible channel
and relative surface temperatures in the Infrared channel.
Calibration Key - When Checked includes a key in the upper left corner of the display that allows you to
correlate shades or colors to temperatures in degrees Celsius for those not Met savy get you conversion
chart out. The calibration key is most effectively used by rotating your phone into landscape mode.
Range Rings - When checked displays a series of three rings surrounding the selected center location.
If the altitude is 500 miles or less these range rings show 25, 50, and 75 miles. If the altitude is greater
than 500 miles then the range rings show 100, 200, and 300 miles from the center.
City Rings - When checked every city that is displayed as a red dot will have two range rings
surrounding it that are 10 miles and 25 miles away from the city.
Borders - This is checked by default and displays geographic and political borders down to the state
level. If you uncheck this the borders are not shown. This is seldom done except for artistic purposes.
Weather Satellite Systems
In Support of Operational Meteorology and Education