Archive for the ‘stormpulse’ Tag

Live weather data & video on Stormpulse during US landfalls in 2011

This is a guest post by Mark Sudduth, owner and operator of HurricaneTrack.com.

I am pleased to announce that HurricaneTrack.com is partnering with Stormpulse beginning today. The partnership will mean an incredible hurricane tracking experience for both of our audiences. I met with Stormpulse co-founder Matt Wensing a couple of weeks ago in Florida. We talked about some ideas that grew in to even bigger ideas and before we knew it, we had hatched a plan that will revolutionize hurricane tracking. Our plan is to combine the ultra-modern look of the Stormpulse brand with the educational, informative and live data aspects of HurricaneTrack.com. It is no secret that our Java maps are showing their age. Five or six years ago, they were cutting edge, now they are dated and were in need of a complete re-design. Instead of doing that, we have decided to add a custom Stormpulse tracking map to our homepage (as seen below). The map’s functionality will evolve over time but it will give our visitors instant access to a live hurricane tracking map from the moment an “invest” is activated by the National Hurricane Center.

Stormpulse and its related tracking maps have quickly become famous the world over. Utilized by millions of people from business, industry, government agencies and of course the avid hurricane tracker, there is no mistaking a Stormpulse tracking map. We are honored to have the privilege of providing the Stormpulse brand to our visitors. In fact, we will develop special features for our version of the tracking map not found anywhere else.

As for our contribution to Stormpulse, we will develop high resolution digital data and live video streams for Stormpulse clients. The data will be plotted on Stormpulse maps generated for specific needs of their clients- ranging from personal use to large corporate and government decision making entities. The long term goal is to blanket a region with dozens of instrumented towers to provide unprecedented live data and video streams on a level never before available. This partnership will help to facilitate that goal.

Matt had this to say regarding the new partnership:

“Mark’s proven delivery of accurate, real-time storm data and video feeds during landfalls makes the HurricaneTrack team an excellent extension to the Stormpulse platform. Working together is an obvious and natural fit which will allow us to demonstrate what can be done when you bring together the right expertise.”

Today’s announcement is only the beginning to what we both see as an enormous opportunity to serve both of our user bases with the best tools available. The entire HurricaneTrack.com team looks forward to pushing the limits of what we can do with the power of Stormpulse on our side.

Stormpulse Maps Pro: the oil spill & more

Since we launched Stormpulse Pro last November, we’ve received a steady flow of requests for these premium features to become available on our affiliate/Stormpulse API maps.  In response to this demand, we’ve launched Stormpulse Maps Pro. (NOTE: If you’ve already got a Stormpulse account (free or Pro), you’ll need to sign out of that account before you can sign up for Stormpulse Maps).

These premium maps accounts take our free maps to the next level by offering:

  • New! Gulf oil spill. Engage your visitors with the only interactive weather maps on the web with detailed plotting of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site and 24-hour forecast from the NOAA updated daily.  You can check out this feature on our maps at Stormpulse.com.
Deepwater Horizon site & Gulf oil spill

Deepwater Horizon site & Gulf oil spill

  • No upsells or advertising. To help ensure your audience stays on your site, ads and upgrade links are never displayed on a premium affiliate map.
  • Super-resolution radar loops. Bright colors and fine-grained details draw your visitor’s attention to the most important features of each storm. Powered by “Level 2″ data from the National Weather Service, this is the highest resolution radar available on the web.
  • Tropical watches and warnings. Inform your audience of the threat to coastal areas as the storm approaches land.

As with our free maps, you can also toggle layers and add customer markers using the Stormpulse Maps JavaScript API, which we’ve designed to be familiar to anyone with Google Maps experience.

Keep the requests coming …

Locality, beauty, and speed: major updates to Stormpulse

Now with city-level coverage for thousands of U.S. locations and ZIP codes

We’ve spent the last four months working on an update to make Stormpulse.com more local, more beautiful, and faster.  And as of this morning, you can go and see for yourself.

Major highlights:

  • Home page attempts to geo-locate and route you to a local weather page.
  • Current conditions box shows current temperature, conditions, and winds.
  • Forecast box shows high and low temperature and an hour-by-hour summary for the next three days.
  • Map imagery with a resolution of 500 m/pixel–four times greater than our previous maps (so you zoom in four times closer).
  • Speed boost: the map only loads the severe weather information it needs for your current view (no loading or rendering data needlessly).
  • Map enhancements–clearer labeling and more beautiful terrain.

Those are the big items.  Other items we get excited about:

  • When viewed with an iPhone, the weather information is displayed in a friendly, readable fashion (and more mobile support coming soon).
  • The ‘Share Map‘ feature now works for U.S. Severe Weather and allows you to share down to the plotpoint for a storm.  For example, a close-up view of Katrina bearing down on NOLA.  This will work for forecast positions during an active storm as well.
  • Improved color scheme for severe weather alerts.  In our first attempt at severe weather coverage, we adopted the National Weather Service’s colors entirely.  Since then, we’ve seen a few big storms come and go, and a lot of winter storms come and go, and we’ve adjusted our colors to improve visibility on the critical alerts, and quiet down the less important ones.
  • Simplified site navigation bar.  Fewer choices with an expandable button at the end means less confusion, we believe.
  • Intelligent expanding and contracting of weather info boxes in the left column.  We are big believers in only showing what matters and hiding the rest.  We’ve tried to make some smart decisions about what to hide and what to show by default.  Tell us if you disagree!

Since so much of this is visual, I thought I’d include a few more screenshots that do this update justice.

A Winter Storm Watch in Hartford, CT:

Wintry weather in … Texas?!  Yep.

As always, we looking forward to hearing what you think.

The Stormpulse Team

Stormpulse Advanced survey

Want to help shape our future? Then head over to our site and click the ‘Help Stormpulse, take our survey!‘ link in the top-right-hand corner.

We’re looking to add advanced accounts with premium features to our site, and we’d appreciate your frank input.

Happy birthday: Stormpulse turns 4!

This week, Stormpulse turns four years old. The site began as a just-for-fun project in mid-September of 2004. Back then I was calling it ‘canewatch’–the name of the folder on my laptop that held all of the little PHP scripts that grabbed XML from the National Hurricane Center and parsed the massive HURDAT file containing all of the best track information back to 1851.

An excerpt from my first blog post about it, from September 21st, 2004:

National Hurricane Center / Tropical Prediction Center — my latest web project involves hurricanes. Twelve hundred of them to be exact. Well, including tropical storms. Can’t share much detail but the theme of the story is that I’m tired of the cartoon renderings that currently pass as meteorological forecasts and have embarked on a journey to bring information rich interactive displays using hurricane data to the general public. I’ve also been waking up between 4:00am and 5:30am in the morning to plug away at this, as my life with a now-nine-week old is rather full!

And another:

To supplement the quasi-dearth of creative challenge at my workplace, I’m currently coding away for what will be stormpulse.com, a real-time updating hurricane tracking site. Nothing there yet, but my PowerBook is gladly accepting a pummeling of data as I build the MySQL back-end. This is an exciting project in many ways. From a social benefits standpoint, I truly believe people deserve better than the cartoon-like graphics and information they get from their local weather service. Technologically, it’s loaded with challenges of integrating multiple data sources by fetching live feeds and simultaneously calling on the historical data that will be stored as well (all of the tracking information since 1851). For the geeks out there, it looks something like: Original input + fetched data (Cron jobs) –> [MySQL] <– PHP –> [XML] <– XML Connector –> [Flash]. Yesterday I downloaded 32,000 GPS coordinates for the state of Florida. Fun! :-D

That old personal blog also contains a few posts commenting on Hurricane Frances, the storm that most directly inspired me to write the code (my family was and still is in West Palm Beach, near Frances’ ultimate landfall). For those of you interested in startups, you may want to read more about our beginnings here at Stormpulse.com.

What have we accomplished in four years? We’ve launched a site, we’ve heard a lot of great feedback, we’ve assimilated that feedback, and we’ve received more visitors in the last three weeks than we ever thought possible.

Which brings me to a very big ‘THANKS!’ to all of you that have helped spread the word. Thank you!

Interrogative statements commonly found in our Gmail inbox

To improve our communication, we now have a Frequently Asked Questions page.

Aren’t you glad you asked? :-)

Like Stormpulse? Leave a tip with Tipjoy.

This morning we released a small update that allows appreciative users to ‘tip’ Stormpulse, Inc. with a small donation. This actually comes at the behest of our audience–that we ought to be making money with the site, or at least covering our expenses. :-) Yes, we really did have a user ask how they could submit a donation. So there you have it.

The default amount is 10 cents. If you would like to give more, you can. When you give any amount, you are asked to fund a tipjoy account with $5, which you can then use to tip any other site in the tipjoy network.

If you change your mind after submitting a tip (i.e. you’re not interested in funding your tipjoy account), you can easily cancel your tip by going to your transaction history page and clicking ‘cancel unpaid items.’  We promise we’ll still let you use the site and treat you kindly.

Stormpulse product page on Facebook

If you’re not too busy tracking the tropics …

For those of you that use Facebook, you can show your support for our site and join the conversation about storms, new features, and bugs by befriending Stormpulse.com.  This is also a great way to subscribe to updates (if you’re not a regular blog reader).

Stormpulse.com Product Page on Facebook

Thanks for all of your continued feedback. We’re putting together a “Testimonials” page to highlight the awesome response we’ve been getting. Later today we’re rolling out a few more bug fixes, and in the days following, U.S. doppler radar.

Thanks for using Stormpulse.com!

Thank you: A summary of Stormpulse feedback in recent days

First of all … with Hurricane Gustav less than 40 hours from landfall, our thoughts are with the people of Louisiana.

I wanted to write a quick post tonight letting all of you know how much we appreciate the flood of feedback and constructive criticism we’ve received, particularly in the last week.  While we read every single character you send our way, we no longer have the ability to respond to every email and continue making progress on the site.  So if we haven’t responded to you personally, we trust you understand …

Since many people claim to be listening to feedback but don’t seem to do much about it, I thought I would prove it by listing the most common (and best) suggestions we’ve heard so far:

  • It’s hard to tell the difference between the various colors in the storm category legend.  Specifically, we need to create a greater distinction between categories 3, 4, and 5.
  • “Please put the category somewhere on the map/info box.”  Done.  We now list “H1″, “H2″, etc. in the information box at the bottom of the map.
  • “Give me some way to make the map bigger“.  Done.  We’ve added a Full-Screen link to the site (look at the top-right), and we’ve made height and width settable parameters in the API.
  • “Let me zoom in farther.”  Coming … we just downloaded imagery from NASA that will allow you to zoom in another one or two steps.
  • Add Little Cayman and Cayman brac to the map!”  Seems reasonable to us.  Haven’t done this yet, though.  Sorry.
  • “Some of the photos for Hurricane Katrina as wrong/false.”  Done.  We’ve gone in and cleared the erroneous ones out, as far as we know.
  • “I can’t see the background tiles/map.”  We’ve narrowed this down, in most cases, to a corporate firewall blocking the traffic or a need to clear your browser cache and try again.
  • Add radar!”  Coming, although it probably won’t animate at first.
  • “Please label latitude and longitude on the grid.”  This is going to be a little tricky, but again, we’ll see what we can do once things calm down a bit.  :-)

All for now.  Thanks again to all of you that have taken the time to write.  And for those that haven’t, thanks for using the site and the API service.  And our fingers are flying fast trying to make it even better.

A better buoy GUI: ocean observations on the Stormpulse.com map

This morning we rolled out a buoys feature that we were forced to remove before our initial launch but have been able to bring back (just in time for a new hurricane?). The dataset is sourced from the NOAA’s National Buoy Data Center.

To access the feature, click ‘More’ in the top-right Layers menu to expose the ‘Ocean Buoys’ option. Clicking ‘On’ will retrieve the latest weather reports from all over the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean, and place them on the map in the form of blue boxes and red boxes. Blue boxes represent sea-based observations, while red boxes represent land-based observations. Clicking one of these boxes will bring up details in a ‘dock’ near the bottom of the map.

We can see that thanks to the high-potential disturbance off the coast of Puerto Rico this morning, NOMAD Buoy 41043 (seen here as the blue box in the northeast quadrant of the disturbance) has recorded wind gusts of 31 mph:

These observations update once every few hours, assuming all of the communication between that little object in the vast blue ocean and our servers works properly.

Since our last release, we’ve also fixed a bug such that the entire description for a tropical disturbance can now be seen–just click ‘More…’ in the description box at the bottom of the map when a disturbance is highlighted.

We’ve also added a small feature that will show you the population of a city if you click the label on the map.

Users of the Stormpulse API do not need to do anything to take advantage of these enhancements.  They should already be visible to you and your web visitors.

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