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!

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7 comments so far

  1. […] our latest estimate, building Stormpulse.com has taken over 10,000 hours stretched over 4 years time. In that time, we’ve done nothing to monetize the site except adding a Tipjoy button and […]

  2. Chuck on

    i just have to say when I happened upon your site I was mollified and knew I had found my hurricane awareness nirvana. What an undertaking, just sensational results. When I have the means I will donate.
    living in Florida your site is a godsend. and being an artist by profession I am at home in your interface and comfortable viewing and exploring the details and options.
    It is visually splendid and a a wonderful teaching aid.
    You did not pay me to say this. I just had to tell you how good it is to come here and not the Weather Channel or Intellicast for hurricane info,….never a hangup and it is fast too. Thanks.

  3. Baylink on

    Like the new dECAPITALIZER.

    Don’t forget to add the storm and forecaster names to your exception table.

  4. Nicki on

    A friend of mine turned me on to this site a few months ago, now I check it periodically … especially since I have a Florida vacation coming up and am hoping no TSs or ‘Canes are in the area while my family and I are down there! ;)

  5. Jason on

    You’ve got something really cool with StormPulse.com!! I’ve got everyone at work hooked on it!! Can’t wait to see what you’ve got coming up in the future!

  6. Adrian on

    Just wanted to sat congrats on your 4 years!

    Big fan of your site keep up the great work.

  7. Mark on

    Matt,

    Nice post! I can see you have had a fascination with hurricanes for a long time!!! I have to admit, I never had any desire to check out all the different hurricane models.

    Meanwhile, I’m still on Bonny Island in Nigeria, waiting for cool down of the new LNG tank. Once that is complete, I’ll be on my way, next to Qatar, then to South Korea. I’ll make it back to West Palm Beach eventually! You’ve done a nice job of keeping the hurricanes away from West Palm Beach while I’ve been gone.

    Thanks!


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