The way the wind blows

Want to know where the wind blows on continental America? Now there is an easy way to find out.

I recently stumbled across one of the best data presentations I’ve seen in a while. The National Weather Service in the US publishes a huge data base on wind surface speed across the country that is updated once every hour. As you can imagine, this results in potential useful data being made useless because it is too large and unwieldy to make sense of.

But how to represent data as large and dynamic as wind speed? The Wind Map, is an elegant and ingenious solution.

It plots the direction and strength of wind across the US and, as it uses hourly forecasts, is a near real-time account of how the wind blows. It also makes a pretty picture. The most amazing thing about this solution is that it was created as an experiment in art rather than a meteorological project. It took an outsider, in other words, to compile the data into a useful form. It’s a lesson that continues to pop up and surprise: a fresh set of eyes from an outsider can often lead to the best solutions.

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