Tracking tornadoes with SAS

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We had some fierce wind storms all across the United States yesterday, which even spawned some tornadoes!

It looks like we weathered the storm OK here in Cary (but I still need to run out to the lake and make sure my pontoon/houseboat is still there, agh!).

Anyway ... as with other natural disasters, it got me thinking about ways SAS could be used to visually analyze the data.

I found that NOAA's Storm Prediction Center website has historical data about tornadoes, and they've even plotted the data on a map!

I decided to use SAS to create a map similar to theirs ... and make a few improvements (here's the code).  The map below is my SAS version (click to see full-size/interactive map):

PNG image of U.S. Tornado Map (years 1950 to 2011)
Note that this SAS version has the following improvements over the original:

  • In addition to the tornado paths that have a beginning & ending coordinate, I also plot a single 'point' for the tornadoes that only have a beginning coordinate in the data (this fills-in a lot of points in Florida, for example).
  • I make the state borders gray, rather than black, to de-emphasize them -- the red tornado data is the most important thing, and should stand out the most.
  • I also used ods html to create mouse-over text, so you can hover and see the state names.
  • And, you can scroll down to see each year plotted separately.

Assuming you were born after 1950, you can even scroll down and see the tornadoes during the year you were born -- that's pretty darn cool, eh?!?

Food for thought:  What data does your company have that could be plotted on a map this way? :-)

 

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About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over 20 years, and is perhaps the foremost expert in creating custom graphs using SAS/GRAPH. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University. He is the author of several conference papers, has won a few graphic competitions, and has written a book (SAS/GRAPH: Beyond the Basics).

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