Transparent hurricane paths in R

October 1, 2014

(This article was first published on Robert Grant's stats blog » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Arthur Charpentier has written a really nice blog post about obtaining hurricane tracks and plotting them. He then goes on to do other clever Markov process models, but as a dataviz guy who knows almost nothing about meteorology, I want to suggest just a small improvement to the maps. Almost every graphic with a lot of data benefits from transparency. It’s easy to add in R too, you can just specify a color with a function like rgb(). Here’s the opaque version:


and here it is with color=”red” replaced by color=rgb(255,0,0,18,maxColorValue=255).


The only other thing I did to Arthur’s code was to wrap the crucial TOTTRACK line in a try() function because some of the files came back with error 404, and you don’t want to stop just for a few ol’ hurricanes:


Longer-term, it would be worth trying to replace the tracks with splines to avoid jumpiness, and it does look like there’s some dirt in the data: what are those tracks going straight from the Azores to Iceland?

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