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Week 4:Category 4 Hurricane Odile Expected To Make Pass At Baja Peninsula
09-17-2014, 05:01 PM
Post: #1
Week 4:Category 4 Hurricane Odile Expected To Make Pass At Baja Peninsula
[Image: hurricane-odile.gif?itok=0Ak1Bgib]

The visualization describs the probable path, Hurricane Odile might follow over a period of 5 days. They start monitoring the state of hurricane from Sunday September 2014 and then continue to track it as it moves closer towards the western coast of Mexico. They depict the severity of the weather across different region by classifying them as ‘warnings’ and ‘watches’. Also individually they classify ‘warning’ and ‘watches’ further into hurricanes and tropical storms which are represented by different colors. Along with this information they provide a conical pattern which indicates how the storm would spread. It also contains mapping of sustained winds by using different letters each indicating different wind speeds.

Pros :
1. I really liked the visualization as it gives a very good estimate in most simplistic way about the probable path that hurricane would take.
2. The designer did not clutter the map with lot of data, and by including few alphabets and colors, clearly convey his intentions.
3. The legend contains a lot of text, but I felt in this case it was important because the map portrays a lot of information.

1. I felt that instead of just showing a white conically pattern, if they could have shown the path the hurricane may follow according to pattern used in isopleth maps
2. The colors used to indicate ‘watches’ are very light and are barely visible in the visualization. Even though I do agree , that the designer is trying to contrast it based on severity with the warnings, but if they are not able to clearly indicate what they are trying to convey ,then it doesn’t seems to be quite useful.
3. I also felt that the background colors, particularly the color of the ocean was very bright. Maybe picking colors scheme in the shades of sky blue would seem to be a better fit in this case.

Overall the visualization does a very good job in helping us gather higher level weather information about the storm. What do you guys think ?

This article was taken from International business times. You can find the complete article in the following link.Hurricane Odile
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09-19-2014, 11:11 PM
Post: #2
RE: Week 4:Category 4 Hurricane Odile Expected To Make Pass At Baja Peninsula
I think the visualization does a pretty good job of describing the probable path the hurricane Odile might follow. It has the probable path, wind speeds, watch and warning information all in one visualization without making it look cluttered.
Use of colors to depict warning information for hurricane and storms makes it stand out and clearly conveys the message. I do agree with Prashant that the faded/light colors used for watches are not clearly visible.
Alphabets are used to denote wind speeds and a legend is provided to map the alphabets to predicted wind speeds. It does become a bit cumbersome to get to know the predicted wind speeds but not to a great degree.

I think that this visualization has done a good job and conveys the information clearly, however, I feel this visualization would have benefited greatly if the visualization was an interactive time series; showing the probable position and related information for different time that the hurricane is being monitored. This would have made the visualization to clearly portray the probable path the hurricane will take along with the related information like wind speeds directly on the visualization.
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09-20-2014, 03:00 PM
Post: #3
RE: Week 4:Category 4 Hurricane Odile Expected To Make Pass At Baja Peninsula
I too agree that the graph is very neat and simple making it quite easy to understand. I agree with the pros Prashant pointed out.
But in terms of the cons, I would have to disagree with the first point. I thought the conical representation was fine to give a rough idea of the cyclone’s progress. Having said that, I do agree with the other cons. While I did not have any difficulty in finding the light pink color representing the Hurricane watch, I did take me a while to notice the yellow mark for the Tropical storm watch. Also, I found the alphabets a little misleading, in the sense that I assumed S as small, M as the medium and H as the high winds. However, M and H have a reversed purpose.

Overall, I find this graph very informative and easy to understand. As an improvement, the alphabets used to indicate the wind speed could be better and the background could do with a little hue to allow the more important aspects of the map pop out.
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09-21-2014, 11:17 AM
Post: #4
RE: Week 4:Category 4 Hurricane Odile Expected To Make Pass At Baja Peninsula
Generally saying, I think the color scheme works good. Trivial improvement could make the it more intuitive and easily readable. However, there exists a certain confusion.

- The color scheme is of old 8-bit style. For the sake of subconscious implication, I feel this kind of style makes audiences sense it more "reliable". (as information is carried by something has been through a long time). Meanwhile, this 8-bit color scheme is insufficient to present semi-transparency that could make the overlapping of the white prediction zone and Baja peninsula looks better.

- On the other hand, I think an improvement to the color scheme of "Watches" and "Warnings" is to incorporate more intensity. Color is unsortable, but intensity is. The connection of the colors used for tropical storm warning and tropical storm watch is not intuitive enough, since blue and yellow is not naturally correlated. Using intensity variations to represent different severities of watches and warnings could make it less messy. To this respect, the colors of hurricane watch and hurricane warning is much better. Of course, using sky blue for tropical storm watch would interfere with the color of ocean, which implies a redesign of the color scheme for the whole image (possibly the UI of monitoring system).

- Also, I think the initial marks (M,H,S,D) used to represent wind speeds, when combined with black marks, carry certain ambiguity. My understanding is that those initial marks depict wind speeds of different locations according to current location of tropical cyclone, while black marks depict future locations of tropical cyclone. When combined together, a possible mis-interpretation could be winds speeds at the center of tropical in the next few days will be gradually going down. This is because marks with different semantics are combined together.
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09-21-2014, 11:26 AM
Post: #5
RE: Week 4:Category 4 Hurricane Odile Expected To Make Pass At Baja Peninsula
I've used these maps for real when living on the gulf coast. I've found that the way in which they depict the path of uncertainty to be very easy to read as well as where watches and warnings are located at. I do agree that the lightness of the watches are a little hard to see, but I think that is due to the nature of this particular map where the tropical storm watch is very small. Overall it is a very compact and informative visualization. My only real complaint is that the cone represents the center of the storm and not the actual width. It requires looking at other information to get an impression of how large the storm really is and how badly you'll be effected (dry side of the storm versus wet side).
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09-21-2014, 09:00 PM (This post was last modified: 09-21-2014 09:03 PM by Derek Nelson.)
Post: #6
RE: Week 4:Category 4 Hurricane Odile Expected To Make Pass At Baja Peninsula
I would agree that the visualization helps to show the probable path that the storm will take. I would also agree that they make it simple to look at and there is lots of information that has been shown on the map. I also think that in your critique you mentioned that the colors are light, this I would agree with. They seem to be hard to see because some of them don't show up very much. I noticed that the choice of color was interesting. I would consider the way they are used as ordered. Because a watch should come before a warning. As we learned in class that colors are very hard to order so maybe there might be a better way? I think the color for the tropical storms is a yellow color, it should have been a lighter blue like the way the Hurricane colors. As I was looking at the map I had to look at the key many times to understand what the map was trying to tell me so I would say that it may be even too simple. Specifically the letters were hard for me to understand because it seemed that it was kind of random to the choice of letters.
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09-23-2014, 10:34 PM
Post: #7
RE: Week 4:Category 4 Hurricane Odile Expected To Make Pass At Baja Peninsula
I would say that the visualization fits its intended purpose, which is to convey a good amount of detail about the hurricane's path and the associated warnings.
Since the map comes from NOAA, I'd expect the intent to be to convey a lot of information to someone who is very concerned about the path of the hurricane, like local response teams and governments. It's not meant to be 'easy' to look at, like something directed at the general public would be.

The map itself is pretty easy to understand (geography), but the legend takes some looking at to know what's going on. And that's not a bad thing. Once you've read the legend, it's pretty easy to distinguish colors, shapes, letters, and their positions. And the 3 channels don't really compete with each other either. Colors that pop out are used for warnings and watches, or the hurricane start location which is far away enough to not conflict. Shape determines the location of the hurricane, and letters determine the wind speed.

Overall I think it's a very good visualization. Dense, which we're not used to seeing, but good.
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