As of 1 August 2017, the KCCI-TV SchoolNet Project was discontinued. This website will eventually go away as well. Thanks for your usage over the years since 2002! Questions?

Select Lesson:

5. Web Cameras


The SchoolNet8 project includes a network of Internet accessible web cameras. These cameras provide live looks at over a dozen locations throughout Central Iowa. These images are also archived on the website, so you can see what is happening right now and what happened yesterday or even last year! Online Resources:

The webcamera resources can be found here:

By default, this page contains an overview of the most recent images grabbed from the network of webcams. These images are updated every 5 minutes during normal weather and every minute during severe weather. Besides viewing the most recent image, you can do a whole lot more with the cameras. The page also contains a form which allows you to choose the time of the webcamera image. You need to choose the 'Archived Images' option and then set the form to the date and time of your choice. Note that not every site goes back to the beginning of the archive.

There are also two links on the page to special webcam applications. One takes you to an application that displays loops of historical webcam images. You can find this application here:

There is also an application to view high resolution and live images from the cameras. You can find the page here:


  1. Take a look at the current images from the network of cameras. Can you see any differences between the sites? Are some sites cloudier than others? Do some sites have snow on the ground?
  2. Take a look at a webcamera loop using the webcam historical loops page. Do you notice anything changing during the loop? Can you see rain falling or snow melting?
  3. The Iowa Environmental Mesonet maintains a page filled with interesting lapses from the webcamera network. You can access it here. You can download any of the movies on that page. The format is simple MPEG1, so hopefully it plays on your computer. Describe what you see in those movies. Have you ever seen anything similar in real life?
  4. The tornado video from the previous question's site is extremely interesting. Did you notice how the tornado first appears near the ground and then the funnel descends to the circulation? How might you think meteorologists would use the webcameras during servere weather? What do the cameras provide that the SchoolNet8 weather sites do not?

Possible Answers:

  1. Depending on the day, you may or may not see differences in the images. If you do see differences, look for differences in weather variables like air temperature. Perhaps the differences in the weather varaibles, for example, temperature, can be explained by what you see from the webcams.
  2. Again, this will depend on the day.
  3. Most of those movies depict severe weather or pretty cloud formations. The Humboldt movie of vigorous convection has been used in a number of classrooms to illustrate explosive convection. Explosive convection is rapidly rising 'bubbles' of air in a thunderstorm. Seeing such impressive development is a sign of a storm with lots of energy associated with it and a chance to produce wind, hail, and/or tornados.
  4. TV and National Weather Service meteorologists absolutely love the webcameras. They provide that eye in the sky that automated weather sensors can not provide. They can visually show the clouds and what is happening on the ground whereas automated weather sensors can not.

Other Educational Resources: