Billion Dollar Weather Disasters

Week 35 Viz

Posted by David Velleca on November 1, 2018

Data Storytelling and Dataviz Approach

I looked at this dataset as an opportunity to play with some of the new features that I saw demonstrated at Tableau Conference. Between dashboard buttons, transparent backgrounds and heatmaps, there is a lot to be excited about. However, in my opinion, one of the most impactful new features is set actions. I really liked the demonstration of the drillable tree map that was shown during Devs on Stage, and decided this was a great opportunity to replicate that functionality and learn how to work with set actions.

So, this viz has two elements - a line chart showing the total cost of the weather events by year, and the aforementioned tree map, showing the breakdown of the cost by event type. Both of these vizzes can be interacted with through set actions. Selecting years in the line graph, adjusts the members of the set that drive the tree map - adding the selected years to the set and removing unselected years. I thought this was a powerful way to explore the breakdown of a selected year's disaster cost by event type.

For instance, in the line chart, 2005 sticks out as a year with a high cost tied to weather disasters. Clicking the point for 2005 filters the tree map below to show that of the $221 billion of total damage, the majority is due to tropical cyclones. This information is also displayed in the viz in tooltip. However the impact of the set action on the tree map provides a bit more interactivity, as the user can click on the tropical cyclones segment of the tree map to see the individual events that make up the total costs of the tropical cyclones.

Drilling into the tropical cyclones reveals that the $218 billion in damage tied to tropical cyclones was due to 4 major hurricanes, mostly driven by Hurricane Katrina. Clicking off of the selected year in the line chart adds all of the years back into the set, and the tree map updates to show the proportion of the cost of tropical cyclones broken out by each individual hurricane, and the impact of Katrina versus all other billion dollar hurricanes is obvious. Keep in mind that set actions aren't working right now in Tableau Public, so feel free to download the workbook to play with the actions.

The possibilities for set actions and the opportunity for user interactivity are exciting! What new features of Tableau can you leverage? Download the data and see what you can do. Create your viz and post your work to Tableau Public and Twitter with the hashtag #ThrowbackDataThursday, tagging @TThrowbackThurs. We'd really love to see what you can come up with!

Data Source

This week's dataset comes from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (2018). Please be sure to cite the source on your viz.