Stormreportmap.com started in early 2005 just as the Google Map "hacks" were starting to become more mainstream. Initially, the site started out as a "can I do this" application and morphed into an operation that become useful to the general public, insurance adjusters, schools and ever the Department of Defense. Beginning in late 2006, the site was down due to code changes that Google made to the Maps API. Those changes, unfortuntely, broke the development work that I had put into the initial map "hack". In early 2008, the site was brought back online with the same using the same layout and design that was initially created. In June of 2008, the site was re-introduced along with a new layout, new map icons and greater features. In the future, the site will boast a fee-based premium area that will allow members the ability to expand the search capability for storm reports across multiple states, across multiple states or even the ability to export or print out storm reports.
New Site Features
The recent redesign of the site has introduced quite a few new and interesting features. New map layers including a convective outlook layer, a radar layer and a severe storm warning layer roundout the larger changes you will see.
The convective outlook layer is provided by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) that helps to illustrate the general threat of severe convective storms over the contiguous United States over the next 6 to 73 hours. Outlooks are issued up to five times a day, as such, this site will attempt to keep up with each Convective Outlook the SPC posts. While there is a schedule for when each outlook is released, most outlooks are issued earlier than scheduled, therefore, this site may not always reflect the most up to date outlook until the scheduled issued outlook time has passed. Currently, the scheduled releases to Convective Outlooks are 0100Z, 1200Z, 1300Z, 1630Z and 2000Z. the SPC also produces a probabalistic overview that shows where larger storm damage is expected. This feature will be added in the near future.
The radar and severe warning layer is provided by the Iowa State Environmental Mesonet. The Iowa State Mesonet team states that this product is still currently under development, however, there have been many people who have been utulizing this service for a while now. Currently, this site is only utulizing the NEXRAD and Severe Warning layers they provide, however, they also provide satellite and infrared layers that could be added to this site in the future.
A calendar feature was added to help users type in previous dates beyond the quick links found on the left-hand side of the page.
About the Storm Report Data
Stormreportmap.com uses data exclusively found from the SPC, a government body found within the National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Collectively, their goal is to provide accurate and timely forecasts, severe outlooks, and watches for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes over the United States. To accomplish this goal, the SPC uses a long list of freely, available, published forecasting tools. Their forecasts are used by local NWS offices, emergency managers, television and radio meteorlogists, avaiation inducstries, storm spotters, educational institutions and many others.
While storm report data is valuable information, it cannot be guaranteed to be 100% accurate. Anyone can make a storm report through their local NWS office, ranging from emergency personnel to the general public. Unfortuntely, due to the numerous sources where reports can come from, erroronous and repetitive data is expected. Some of the most common inaccuracies seen are the number of tornado reports found on the map. As each report is made, there could be occasions where several people are making a reports regarding the same tornado from a different location.
How often is the data updated?
This application has been optimized to use a local database to store all storm report information that is displayed on this site. We do this for a few reasons:
- Bandwidth is expensive. I'm not here to leech off of the SPC website to simply the most up-to-date data possible for every visitor. To alleviate this, the site will automtically update every half-hour, depending on site traffic, to gather the latest storm report from the SPC.
- Allows us to display information in any way we see fit. Rather than just gathering the storm information and displaying it for the user, we can show trends in storm frequency, strength and location through different weeks and months out of the year.
How does it work?
The site relies upon the Google Maps API to show all storm report information. Google makes frequent updates to their API, as such, there may be occasional downtimes or problems that arise. For more information, please check out the wonderful documentation.
The site should be able to support the following browsers, however, not all have been thoroughly tested.
- Internet Explorer 7+
- Google Chrome
- Safari (Windows/Mac) 2.0+
- Netscape 7.1+
- Opera 7+
If you are running one of the browsers listed below and having trouble viewing or accesing the data on this site, please contact me.