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Geographic Geekery - RonO's Ramblings

Dec. 3rd, 2008 10:42 am Geographic Geekery

Last night while playing on the web before turning in, I did some very geeky things relating to geography, specifically the geography of California now that I'm living here. All of these relate, it least in part, to how much of the coast of southern California is running Northwest-Southeast instead of North-South (and at points in the greater LA metro area almost running East-West)

First, I started playing with the Great Circle Mapper at http://gc.kls2.com. I started by comparing the distance between LAX and two airports in Hawaii -- Hilo (ITO) and Honolulu (HNL). I knew from personal experience in 1975 and 1981 that the flight to Hilo was noticeably shorter than the flight to Honolulu (by about an hour, IIRC). For fun, I also ran the route from San Francisco (SFO). It turns out that not only is it shorter to get to Hilo which is further south, it is actually quite a bit shorter to fly to either from San Francisco (as shown here). It is 2318 miles from SFO to ITO, but 2449 miles from LAX to ITO.

I then tried the distances to other places I've been across the Pacific. I wasn't too surprised when the result to Tokyo were the same (here) with SFO to NRT being 5124 miles and LAX to NRT being 5451 miles. I also checked from Seattle and found that SEA to NRT was, not surprisingly, the shortest at 4769 miles.

I was, however, more shocked to find that the pattern still held to Sydney, but with less difference (SFO-SYD is 7417 miles, LAX-SYD is 7488 miles) between the California airports. (Seattle is further than LAX).

I just checked, and the situation finally reverses to Auckland -- which is further South, but East, of Sydney -- but by only a few miles (SFO-AKL is 6516 miles and LAX-AKL is 6504 miles)

Next, I did some playing with Google Maps and was able to determine with some, but probably not great, accuracy that if I went due north from my house in Oceanside to the 49th parallel, I would hit the US-Canada border less than 20 miles west of where the Washington-Idaho border ends. This means that there are places in metro San Diego that are within 40 miles of the ocean that are due south of Idaho.

Before figuring out how to get the latitude and longitude at the center of a Google map (thanks to a javascript that I found online that can be pasted into the URL bar of a browser that pops the data up) I did notices that closer to home, I live due South of Lake Elinore and Riverside -- which are both much further inland -- as well as Tonapah Nevada which is well into the desert. (My dad traveled to Tonapah several times to visit the test range that Sandia National Labs used near there while I was in school, so I'm marginally familiar with the area, or at least the name).

Current Mood: geekygeeky

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Date:December 8th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
As a result all the virtual North-South highways in California (ie. I-5, US-101, CA-1, etc) run more nearly NW-SE. And where I am, right by I-80, I-80 East is actually running almost due North. It turns East somewhat North as it heads to Sacramento.