Archive for March, 2007|Monthly archive page

Welcome, and a review of features

This blog is intended to keep users of up-to-date on the current status of the site, to solicit and respond to feedback, and to provide a place where you can comment on what you would like to see on the site next. I’d like this to be not just a platform, but a conversation piece. As we make announcements and improvements to the site, we want your feedback–not because it’s flattering that you would take time out of your day to do so (although it is), but because your feedback will be the lifeblood of this site, and whether it serves your needs during hurricane season.

I’d like to take the opportunity to tell you what the site does so far, since the interface isn’t so far along that these things are obvious:

  1. You can view hurricanes and hurricane season dating back to 1851 by entering in a URL such as:, or
  2. Cloud cover (updated every 6 hours) is available back to 2005. Coverage is still a bit spotty and you may notice some to be missing. In time (literally a matter of weeks), we will have cloud cover back to 2002.
  3. The map interface is meant to be like that of Google Maps–you can click or drag your mouse to pan, and use the + or – buttons at the top-left to zoom in and out.
  4. Clicking a city when a storm is active provides you with wind probabilities for that location over the next 5 days.  On the other hand, clicking on a city doesn’t do anything (yet) when the storm you have selected isn’t an active cyclone. However, it will draw a yellow line and provide the distance from the selected storm (and plotpoint) and the city over which you hover your mouse.
  5. You can interact with storm data at the most granular level by clicking on a plotpoint in the storm’s track. This will jump you to that point in the storm’s history.
  6. We currently have issues with Internet Explorer and the site. If you want to get the most out of the site, we strongly recommend Firefox.
  7. Clicking on a storm in the “2006 Storm Season Summary” should open up a historical description of the storm and pan over to the storm in the map window.
  8. Satellite images update every half-hour or so. We are collecting water vapor, infrared, rgb, visible, and more, but only displaying rgb and ir for now. This will change in the near future, hopefully with a better way of organizing them as well.
  9. Yahoo! News articles are brought in from around the web relating to ‘hurricanes’.
  10. Present weather conditions for land and sea stations are available in a table-format down below the satellite images.
  11. Photos are being pulled in from Flickr that relate to the content ‘in focus’. This works on a limited basis, but if you want to give it a try, go to and watch the photos change in the ‘Tropical Weather Photos’ area of the page–they should go from photos for the 2006 hurricane season to images captured during Katrina.

Those are some of the features of the site for now. Please let us know what you think and what else you like to see. While we could do many, many things, right now we want to make sure we do one thing wellsatisfy the primary needs you have for a site during hurricane season, and, in whatever measure possible, do it in a way that is intuitive and beautiful.