Home > graphics, multimedia examples, weekly JOU4342C post > Tracking Hurricanes Shouldn’t be this Pretty

Tracking Hurricanes Shouldn’t be this Pretty

When I got a note from my fiance’s mother telling me that she and her husband had booked a hotel room “just in case” Earl got too close, I realized I had no idea what was going on with the hurricanes situation. I guess, living in Florida so long, we tend to get focused on what’s happening here. I forgot that hurricanes often hit and devastate other areas of the country, as well.

So I had to educate myself. I wanted to see where this hurricane had been,  and I also wanted to know what its projected path was — my fiance’s parents live in Virginia, so that was my main point of concern.

MSNBC Hurricane Tracker

That’s when I stumbled upon MSNBC’s Hurricane Tracker (which is apparently actually built by Stamen, a technology studio in San Francisco and powered by Bing). The tracker is loaded with useful information which is presented in a surprisingly compact and user-friendly way. It would have been easy to overwhelm the visitor on all the different functionality available — wind speed, wind speed category, past track and future path of every hurricane or tropical storm that is currently formed — but Stamen’s multimedia producers have done a lovely job with this one.

Also, being a selfish Floridian, I liked the box that promises I can access my own weather forecast from the same window. Obviously, when people are searching about information for hurricanes, they are likely looking for information on a specific storm. But while weather is on their mind, why not take advantage? However, I could not get this functionality to work. I put in a variety of addresses and the screen never changed, even when I manually dragged the screen over the city in question. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong, but if a tech-savvy visitor like me can’t figure it out, what are the chances that your average visitor will?

My other complaint is that the ad at the top of the page pushes the content (the map) so far down that casual visitors might think that there was no hurricane map and click “back” to go to the next search result. And that would be a shame, because this hurricane map is almost too pretty to  miss.

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