STORM PORN: Best 2012 Hurricane Pix

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Hurricane data image

It seems to safe to say that the 2012 North Atlantic tropical storm season has come to end, so I’ve been pawing through the sat pix I’ve collected trying to choose my favorite for the year. In terms of storm intensity, it was a rather poor season, so the pickings are a bit slim. Consequently, my number one choice isn’t actually a satellite image. What you see up top, a pictorial rendering of the locations and intensities of all reported tropical storms and hurricanes since 1851, was published by John Nelson of IDV Solutions on his UXBlog on August 20.

It is quite beautiful, but also a bit counter-intuitive in its presentation, as the map is Antarctic-centric. To view the image full-size, you can check out John’s original post, which offers numerous display options.

Once you’ve wrapped your head around the perspective, you’ll note the great doughnut void of storm activity around the equator. Though tropical storms are born of equatorial heat, they never venture into equatorial territory. It also seems that the North Atlantic experiences the most storms and the strongest ones, but as John notes in his post this is in part a function of the data set. Storms historically have been tracked much more closely in the North Atlantic, and it is only relatively recently (since the 1970s at least) that coverage of other areas has come up to speed.

It is also true, however, that there is almost never activity in the South Atlantic or the southeast Pacific. Other active areas in this image no doubt will look busier as more data accumulates, but I’d wager it will always be significantly weighted toward the southern portions of the North Atlantic and northeastern Pacific oceans.

My favorite straight satellite photo of the year is this one:

Leslie and Michael storms 2012

This is a compilation of images showing hurricanes Leslie (left) and Michael (right) in relation to each other on September 9.

Michael track 2012

Michael was the most intense North Atlantic storm of the year, as he very briefly achieved Category 3 status. Back in the day, of course, we might never have known he ever existed, as he never came anywhere near any land.

Otherwise, of all the weather-related images that I found this year online this is my favorite:

John's weather stone

John’s stone lives in Porthallow in Cornwall, England. A reliable forecasting system if ever there was one. It is simple enough that you could easily make one yourself to hang in the rig of your boat. Or, if you’re lazy, you can buy one here.

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3 Responses
  1. Carlos Hildalgo

    ” In terms of storm intensity, it was a rather poor season, so the pickings are a bit slim.”

    I cannot believe you wrote that! Even if you don’t live in the tri-state area of NYC, or the southern portion of the Phillipines, your head must be well immersed in some not yet storm removed sand to have written that sentence, unless there’s some utterly satiric note I failed to catch Chatlie.

  2. Charlie

    @ Carlos: Granted, Sandy was quite intense in terms of the damage she did. But in terms of straight storm intensity she never got above Category 2, and was only there briefly. If she had come ashore as a Cat. 5 storm, NJ would likely have been swept away altogether. As for the Philippines, I confess I limited myself to the North Atlantic, as that’s my neighborhood. I didn’t study pix for Asian storms. charlie

  3. Carlos Hildalgo

    I, along with many others in the NY area, were lulled into complacecy prior to Sandy striking the region by the concept of her being only a Cat 1 or perhaps even downgraded to a tropical storm by the time of actual landfall. The intensity of the storm, the gigantic 1,000 mile area, and the length of time she remained causing unprecedented destruction & damage still being dealt with by many even now, makes me think that the Hurricane Category numbers are merely that, and do not always tell the story. It remains instructive though, at some level, that this Superstorm was only a Cat 1. Not that the entire state of New Jersey, or its large governor would be washed into the sea, still God help us if a Cat 5 ever hit here in a similarly timed event.

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