Historical Hurricane Data

I have been looking around the internet at how hurricane data over time is shared and visualized and wanted to share some of what I came across…

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is typically the go to place for Americans and many others for any hurricane data. They happen to have an online app for visualizing their historical hurricane data.

This interactive mapping application easily searches and displays global tropical cyclone data. Users are able to query storms by the storm name, ZIP Code, city, state, geographic region, or latitude/longitude coordinates. Custom queries can track storms of interest and allow for data extraction and download.

(To play, click here)

Here is a visualization of NYC historical hurricane data from the app that was pretty quick to create by searching by location. Notice that it has each hurricane that impacted New York City listed in the sidebar and you can adjust the radius analyzed. Apparently the current naming of hurricanes only started in the 1950’s, so earlier hurricanes are usually named by year and location.

Should you want to really start playing with the data from NOAA, you can download it here (the data is free and in many formats!). Although note that clearly the more recent data is more complete.

The NOAA map is not nearly as lovely as what John Nelson did with the data, as shown on his blog.

Photos and stories are also important data sets, that can very simply show change in neighborhoods after events. If anyone is interested in helping document and record photos and stories, Pratt Disaster Resilience Network is requesting volunteers to help with a Storyline project. Check out this example which has stories from Redhook.

To really understand how important weather data and tracking is before, during, and after a hurricane, I recommend watching the below documentary from American Experience. If you are not in the mood for a whole documentary, their website has some charts (note the data only goes to 2007) and home video footage from the 1938 Hurricane.

The Hurricane of ’38 . American Experience . WGBH | PBS.

As a little bonus…
Here is a fun visualization (gif) of the MTA Subway routes as they came back up after Sandy (through 11/7/12).

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