Dataviz of the week, 20/9/2017

The US Geological Survey (USGS) made this interactive page with rainfall data after Hurricane Harvey hit the coast of Texas. There are couple of classic interactive components at work:

  • map with mouseover labels for counties and weather stations
  • line chart alongside (almost a Harold chart, aka joyplot)
  • animation over time, filling in the lines, colouring the counties, and showing the centre of the hurricane moving
  • link between the lines and the map; hover on one and the other gets highlighted

This is worth adding to any collection to get kids and newbies to think about data and the stories they/it can tell. Maybe the only story is “hurricanes bring rain”, but in the exploration, there’s surely a lot to learn and think about.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 14.29.03

It feels like the lines could be improved on somehow, but I’m not sure how. Making them semi-obscure one another might not look too great. Arranging them differently might lose sense (they track the movement of the hurricane from bottom to top). Smoothing might be good, although the fact that some are variable in the short term and others not so is perhaps interesting to some readers, and that would get smoothed out. I think they should probably be on a solid dark background so the map doesn’t distract. Usually, I like teals a bit too much, but the whole impression of the colour scheme is somehow rather drab; maybe the dark greys are unnecessary for areas of no interest to the reader. There are lots of sweet Mapbox styles that would fix this straight away.


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