Bing Maps: “The Hurricane Season”


The term ‘hurricane season’ recently brought new meaning to many communities across the U.S. East Coast in the wake of Hurricane Irene.  Being able to see the latest developments and impacted locations online through Bing Maps makes it possible to better anticipate, respond and recover from the destruction of hurricanes.

Around the world, people use Microsoft technology every day to stay in touch during difficult times. Today, we’re calling out a Bing Maps app launched by the Wall Street Journal that tracks hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. Tech geek or not, you have to admit this is a useful app, especially now during hurricane season. Let’s take a closer look.


The app is an interactive graphic that charts both current hurricanes as they are happening, and chronicles previous hurricanes dating back to 2005. So if you’ve always wanted to be a weatherman, you can bookmark the link and visit it often to see the latest weather patterns – hurricane season or not. The app is easy to use, so no meteorology degree is required.

To watch a current storm’s path, you can follow it from the moment your browser opens to the app. The storms strength is categorized on the right hand side of the screen so you can see the severity of the storm and the route it is predicted to take.  Here, we see an example of a storm pattern that started near the Bahamas as a tropical storm and as it grew stronger it became a Category 5 making its way up through the Gulf of Mexico. As it got closer to the Gulf Coast it became less intense, still remaining a Category 3 and then tapering off back to a tropical storm status.


To see a past hurricane, just click on one of the blue lines and it will take you to the storm’s history and the calendar at the top will move to the month it happened.




With Bing Maps, it’s easy to zoom in and out by scrolling your mouse so you can zoom in to see high-levels of detail or zoom out to see the past patterns of multiple hurricanes in the Atlantic.



For you self-proclaimed geeks, here’s more on how the app was built and all the things it can do:

Bing Maps’ partner, OnTerra built the hurricane tracker working closely with the Wall Street Journal team. It was created using the Bing Maps AJAX7 API, JQuery and JavaScript. It gets data from NOAA which is processed into JSON data files and refreshed every few hours, which includes the hurricane path, predicted path and the cone of uncertainty polygons. The application works great on modern web browsers including iPhone, iPAD, Android and Blackberry devices, unlike Flash and Silverlight applications. The HTML5 support in the AJAX7 API provides solid mobile device integration for interactive mapping apps like the Wall Street Journal Hurricane Tracker.

DataMarket app: Quick, map-based visualization of your data

The Windows Azure DataMarket is a growing repository of data sources and services mediated by Microsoft. It allows customers to purchase vector and tiled datasets using Open Data Protocol (OData) specifications. Available datasets include weather, crime, demographics, parcels, plus many other layers. The OData working group has been looking at full spatial support for this specification; in the meantime, DataMarket datasets can still be used with geospatial applications and Bing Maps.

To further assist use of datasets, we are happy to announce the launch of DataMarket Mapper, a map app that allows quick and easy map-based visualization of DataMarket data. The app was developed by OnTerra Systems, along with the Microsoft DataMarket group. Look for it in the Bing Maps App Gallery. With a DataMarket subscription you can access layers, and visualize these layers on Bing Maps. If lat/longs don’t exist in the data source then the Bing Maps geocoder will geocode on the fly. Even if you don’t have a DataMarket account, we’ve made some crime and demographic data available in the app.

Figure 1 – DataMarket Mapper showing crime statistics per city using crime data.


You can also use DataMarket data in Bing Maps applications using Bing Maps AJAX and Silverlight APIs. This involves using the vector shape or tile layer methods. Figure 2 shows parcel tile layer overlay on Bing Maps AJAX 7.0 Control API. If you have a DataMarket key with access to these layers you can also access these demos directly for testing/code samples:
•    Alteryx Demographics
•    BSI Parcels
•    Weatherbug Station Locations

Figure 2 – DataMarket parcel data from B.S.I. shown in a web mapping application using the Bing Maps AJAX 7 API.

We’re excited to launch this new app. After you visit the app and see it in action, we’d enjoy hearing your feedback. We’re already working on updates. In the near future, you’ll see the addition of country-based datasets, Windows Live ID/OAuth, and thematic mapping. If you have any questions or comments or would like help in building a custom Bing Maps application with DataMarket Mapper, please contact OnTerra