Final Project: An interactive visualisation of Atlantic tropical cyclones 1851-2012

Matthew Southgate on 31|01|2014
Filled under: Assignment5

For this final project, I decided to continue with the dataset and visualisation from Assignment 4. This dataset was very large and there were numerous ways in which information could be extracted. I decided to continue with visualising the geolocated storm records and how their paths change over time. A great deal of interactivity was included through the addition of controlP5 elements and this can be used to filter the data and gain a deeper understanding.

Age Scale and MiniMap

Showing the “Play” visualisation mode with the colour scale showing storm duration and the mini map turned on.

Type Scale

Showing the “Play” mode, this time the colour legend has been set to show storm Type

I split the visualisation into two different modes, the first consisted of an animation of the storm records between a user selected range. The paths were drawn on a map and were coloured depending on the location of a toggle switch. This toggle switch can be used to select a colour scale based on storm duration, or storm type. A legend was included for both scales that could also be toggled on and off. I kept the mini map feature from Assignment 4, as it was still useful to see what was happening even when the paths displayed on screen became more dense. When this mode reaches the end of the user selected range, the paths start again from the beginning of the range. If a short range is selected, this mode can be used to investigate the paths over one specific year and compare them to other years.

The second visualisation mode is where much of the functionality improvements have been made. This mode draws all the paths that fit within the user selected range instantly, and allow the data to be explored via the use of several filters. The first set of filters are related to the type of storm and can be used to enable or disable plotting of the 9 different storm types. The second set of filters are location based, and can be used to only show storms that pass close by (<50-60km) a selected location. These filters can be used in combination along with the range selecter to explore the data and answer questions. The filters can be used to show “Hurricane force winds that pass Cape Hatteras, NC in 2000-2010″ or “All storms on records that pass close by George Town, Cayman Islands”, for example. To add to the information that can be gained from the visualisation, I included the option to show the names of the storms. This works best for small ranges and with the location specific filters turned on. With this turned on, the user is then given a name and year of a storm so that they know where to start to look for more information.


Animation demonstrating how the filters can be used to find a specific storm. The location has been selected to New Orleans, LA and the range selector focused on the year 2005. The two storms identified are Cindy and Katrina.

Location Selector

Showing the “Explore” mode with the location selector set on George Town, Cayman Islands and all storm types set to show.

Location Selector Type

The “Explore” mode, now the location selector has been set to show only Tropical storms and Hurricanes passing close to Cape Hatteras, NC between 1950 and 1970.

Storm Names

This image shows how the storm names can be presented. By using the location selectors, time range and storm type filters, the user can find a specific storm.


The processing file was too big to upload to the blog by around 2MB. As with assignment 4, I have shared the file from my google drive. The zip file contains all maps and drivers needed to run the sketch in Processing 1.5.1

Google Drive Download Link

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