29 October 2012

Monday Infographics: Hurricane Sandy

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is a few hours away from landfall on the coast of New Jersey. My hopes are that residents along the Mid-Atlantic and New England seaboard have heeded warnings, prepared their homes and families, and evacuated from those areas where directed. For those in the path of this massive storm, the greatest danger is not the winds or rains or even storm surge, it's poor preparation for those and any sense of hubris. If you need help, I don't know why you would be reading this - go to Google's Crisis Map or check out Ushahidi's great round-up of relevant maps and sites.

The Weather Underground web site, long a favorite for those of us who love diving into the data behind all the fancy graphics that The Weather Channel delivers so consistently, was recently bought by that latter company. I readily admit that the merger of expertise between these two, WU in meteorology and TWC in presentation, has been fantastic. One significant positive was WU's selection in 2008 of a Google Maps interface, allowing the user's selection from a vast array of data sources. That orientation, with the expectation that the user can get just as little or as much information as they want/need, is a superb choice on the part of both TWC and WU. The retention of WU's blogs and experts keeps us weather-fascinated types geeking out over all the great stuff that is going on.

So, very quickly, this screen capture of WU's "WunderMap" from approx. 2 pm EDT of the coastal Atlantic region, with the track of Hurricane Sandy and the precipitation radar overlaid on the satellite base map. There are several things to be noted here:
  1. Sandy's eye has just entered the offshore extent of coastal radar coverage. It's rare (to put it mildly) that a storm spans the full extent from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod.
  2. The last advisory position for Sandy's center is just SE of the eye, and the next forecast position is just W of the eye, indicating a track forecast that is currently very accurate.
  3. I did not plot here the pressure or wind fields around Sandy, or the forecast track uncertainty, or the storm surge heights and tide forecasts, or the individual stream gauges with their observations and flood stage forecasts throughout the region... but those are all available in the data sources on the right side of the interface.
Screen capture around 2 pm EDT on 29 October 2012 from Weather Underground's WunderMap.

For the most up-to-the-moment version of this particular map and data combination, click here.

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