Visualizing Tornado Occurrences in the United States of America from 1950 to 2018.

Kellie Manifold

Geovis Project Assignment @RyersonGeo, SA8905, Fall 2019

With a large growing population in the United States of America more people are being affected by tornadoes each year.  Tornadoes are a mobile, destructive vortex of violently rotating winds with a funnel-shaped cloud and immense wind speeds. Over the past several decades tracking tornadoes has become more common, and there has been an increase in the amount of tornadoes recorded each year. With this, tornado tracking has become more frequent, as more technology becomes available.  This increase in tornado occurrences and the technology to track and record them has resulted in a large dataset of tornado occurrences throughout the United States of America. All recorded tornado occurrences from 1950 – 2018 are kept in a database on NOAA National Weather Service’s website. This data set is very large and difficult to visualize.

To help visualize the distribution of tornado occurrences in the USA, the dataset was used to make an ESRI Dashboard. ESRI Dashboard was chosen because it is a good data visualization tool. Dashboards are very user friendly and allows for the creation of many charts, tables, and indicators to display large amounts of data, on a single web page. The dashboard also allows for user interaction, so that they get a better understanding of the data at hand.  

The following steps were used to create the ESRI Dashboard on tornadoes in the United States of America.

First it important to make sure that you have an ArcGIS online account.

The next step is to gather your data. The data for this dashboard was downloaded from the NOAA National Weather Service and the National Centers for Environmental Protection. The file that was downloaded contains the location of all recorded tornadoes in the USA from 1950 – 2018.

Next; Import this data into ArcGIS Pro. The points will be shown through their Latitude and Longitude location. For the purpose of this project only the contiguous USA was looked at, so Puerto Rico, Alaska and Hawaii were removed. This was done through a select by attribute query which can be seen below.

These states were then removed from the map, and attribute table.

The next step to creating the dashboard is to upload the layer to your ArcGIS online account. This is done through publishing your map as a web map. This will then add the layers used onto your ArcGIS online account.

The following steps are through ArcGIS online. Once you are signed into your account, and the published web layer is in your contents, you can now create the dashboard. First, it prompts you to choose a theme colour, light or dark. Dark was chosen for the tornadoes dashboard as it looks more visually appealing.

From here you can add the web layer you published, in this case the tornado layer, and add any other widgets you would like. Such as serial chart, pie chart, indicator, or a list.

Once you decide which widget you would like, it is important that in the Actions tab in the configuration window that all other widgets and filters are selected.

Having these selected will allow for all other map elements and widgets to correspond to changes selected by the user. Make sure this is done for all the widgets that are added. In the case of tornados the widgets used include category selectors for each state, year, or month, an indicator to show the amount of tornados given the selection criteria, a pie chart to show the months tornados occurred, and a serial chart to display the amount of tornados per year.

Once all the widgets are added you can drag them to rearrange the appearance on the dashboard.

Once you have configured all your widgets to get the layout you want, you have successfully created a dashboard.

Thank you for following along!

The final product for this process can be seen here:

Please take a look and interact with the dashboard.