Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters > Floods/storms

11 Oct 16 11:42

We're flooded with information every day. To capture a reader's attention, it's critical to provide your points in a lean way. It also means that we now like to consume news in a much more visual way.

Particular international stories could be told more visually, for instance by using maps. We already see maps trending on social media, but I think also traditional media could use maps more frequently and effectively to tell their stories.

Take the current story about Hurricane Matthew as an example. I want to show you a map, see the image above, that has been created using Swiss Re's CatNet which includes just three elements: the location, the wind footprint and the property value distribution.

These three things combined in a map can tell you many interesting things. For instance it can demonstrate the situation as-is. Matthew, the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean in almost a decade affected a very large area. It meant that the Bahamas saw both its centers, Nassau and Freeport, which are more than 200km apart, almost a direct hit by the storm. Quite a low probability.

Maps also allow you to see how different scenarios could have played out. CatNet shows if Matthew's eye had passed 50 miles to the west, i.e. along a similar track like Hurricane David in 1979, the impact from West Palm Beach to Jacksonville could have caused a large-scale disaster. The storm could have kept its energy over the warm sea for a long distance.

As someone who is interested in how catastrophes affect the world, I think maps can shows more than thousand words. What do you think? Let me know if you'd like to find out more.

Category: Climate/natural disasters: Floods/storms

Location: Florida, United States

1 Comment

Urs Leimbacher - 26 Oct 2016, 12:08 a.m.

Good point, Peter! Maps are a great way to illustrate what a close call hurricane tracks sometimes are when we see how just a small change in their track could multiply the havoc they wreak. That will also contribute to raising awareness about the loss potential of hurricanes.

For those interested in European storm patterns, check out our recent publication "Winter storms in Europe: messages from forgotten catastrophes" at:

This historial analysis also drives home the lesson that if those historic storms had followed just a slightly different track, losses would have been much higher.

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