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Historical Hurricane Tracks lets users customize their searches and shows the tracks of hurricanes around the globe as far back as 1842, along with details on each storm.
Hurricanes are never good news, but they do make history. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has put a lot of that history in one place, with its Historical Hurricane Tracks website, which puts more than 170 years of global hurricane data into an interactive map.
The site serves up data on global hurricanes as they made landfall going back to 1842, long before hurricanes were given names, and provides links to information on tropical cyclones in the United States since 1958, and other U.S. storms dating back to 1851. The most recent addition to the site provides details on last year’s Hurricane Sandy.
Visitors to the site can search by location, storm name or ocean basin and select the search area (by nautical miles, statute miles or kilometers). Selecting Miami, for example, will display a map on south Florida criss-crossed by the tracks of many a hurricane.
Hover the cursor over any of the tracks, which are color-coded to indicate their strength on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale and how their strength changes during their course, and a table on the left will show the name of that storm, if it has one. Clicking on the track or the name in the table will isolate that storm, so the track appears alone on the map, with information in the table showing the wind speed and air pressure when it hit land.
So weather fans can follow the track of 1982’s Andrew through south Florida, 2005’s Katrina when it hit New Orleans or the unnamed marauder that swept through Galveston, Texas, in 1900 and which is still the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history.
Users can zoom in or out of the maps, select views by county and click links to details on a storm as well as NOAA’s report on that storm. The site also has information on population changes along U.S. coastal counties from 1900 to 2000, indicating the growing number of people and infrastructure at risk from hurricanes.
The site, which was developed by the NOAA Coastal Services Center along with the agency’s National Hurricane Center and National Climatic Data Center, offers a fairly comprehensive and easily customizable tool for checking a hurricane’s history. As hurricane season gets into its busiest months, it’s not a bad time to look back.