A brief walk around Alaska's online aviation weather camera program.
A few months ago, the FAA announced the deployment of its all-new Aviation Weather Camera program. I was curious, so recently I took a look around the site—and I have to say, it's incredible.
The design of the site is so simple, I felt like a power user on my first try. The FAA explained it this way: "This new route based information tool (RBIT) features navigational planning on an interactive map with easily accessible images and other weather data." In short, it's almost unbelievably intuitive.
I watched the video tutorials (all are between one and three minutes long—and worth the time) in addition to clicking around by myself to discover how the tools work. Here's a quick overview.
A graphic interface
Cruise over to alaska.faa.gov using your favorite browser. The map interface will be familiar to any users of Google Maps: you move around the map by clicking and holding the mouse button to get "the hand," and zoom using the mouse wheel (or the slider bar in the upper right edge of the map). Terrain and satellite views are available; choose your preference in the upper right.
Each camera site is color-coded (green represents all FAA camera sites; locations in purple are classified as being "in maintenance," while light blue represents third-party cameras) and all are tagged with the name/location. This interactive site was designed for supplemental flight planning purposes only.
Clicking on a marker will create a pop-up-style Quick View of all of the cameras at the site. Camera images are displayed as thumbnails, with any METAR information below that. Most sites have four distinct views, and all have at least two views.
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