Fri, 28 Aug 2020 09:30:47
Microsoft Flight Simulator players have turned into virtual storm chasers this week, hunting down Hurricane Laura as it approaches the US Gulf Coast. While Texas and Louisiana braced for what was described as an “unsurvivable storm surge,” the real-time weather inside Microsoft Flight Simulator provided a real-life spectacle for players.
Virtual trackers have gathered in the skies over the Gulf of Mexico to fly straight to Hurricane Laura. The results show tremendous realism in Microsoft Flight Simulator, just as Hurricane Laura threatens to devastate the real world. The player has flown directly through the eye of the storm, around the outer edge, and even so far the plane has frozen and needs de-ice.
The virtual view allows players to track Hurricane Laura in the moments before it lands as a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds of 150mph. A YouTube user also captured the virtual experience of flying through Hurricane Laura, which shows how well the storm cloud formation is depicted in-game.
Flight Simulator uses real-time weather data to map conditions around the world to make this possible. Microsoft is partnering with Swiss company Meteoblue to map world weather patterns. Meteoblue divides the world into 250 million squares, each of which measures wind speed, temperature, pressure, and more. Although weather data will initially be limited to airports for virtual pilots, Flight Simulator now replicates real-world weather events with incredible accuracy.
“Yesterday’s hurricane was very beautiful to look at and was accurately predicted by our models even days ahead,” explained Mathias Müller, co-founder of Meteoblue, in an email to The Verge. “We are very happy that real-time weather is now part of Flight Simulator. It was a long journey as integrating these massive amounts of data required the solution of many problems. From our end, we would like to have even more details and weather parameters we already compute for our customers and the meteoblue.com website inside the game, but the development on the game side is extremely complex and takes time.”
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