Data Viz Done Right

December 9, 2010

It’s cold here in Georgia, but how about Britain?

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According to the Guardian Data Blog on December 1st “The freezing weather, which fell to -20C in parts of Scotland, continues to severely disrupt travel across the country.  The problem is the ground temperature is lower than the air temperature [which] makes thawing difficult.” 

This impacted me since the Manchester United vs. Blackpool match was not shown on Fox Soccer Channel.  Apparently Blackpool doesn’t have an underground heating system to keep the pitch from freezing.  It stinks when you set your DVR and get some other crappy game instead.

The Guardian presented the data via a Google map, which is not surprising since this is such a simple way to present the information.  The problem with presenting the data this way is that you can’t determine how cold it really was nor how much the weather changed; the data is represented merely as points on a map.  If you look at this map, it could mean just about anything: vacation spots, lighthouses, you name it.

Guardian Cold Weather

I wanted to understand how the temperature changed day to day from December 1-3.  I wish they posted the data for more days so that I could see what happened over the weekend as well (to justify the game getting canceled).  I loaded the data into Tableau and changed the measurement to be the change from day to day.  This means that December 1 doesn’t have anything to compare to. 

It’s incredibly clear that there was a bit of a warm up in many places in the UK with the exception of the northwest.  However, the temperature dropped dramatically on December 3, but with a warming occurring in the northwest.  Scroll through the days to see it for yourself.

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