The Future Is Here
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No, but seriously. If sharknadoes were real, where would they strike?

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No no but really. Guys. YOU GUYS.

This gorgeous map is the work of datavisualization guru John Nelson, and it is, as it says right there on the map, "mankind's best attempt to understand this deadly phenomenon."

Nelson has mapped global disaster threats before – in fact, he's kind of amazing at it – but this is his first foray into speculative visualization. It's characteristically beautiful and, of course, based on actual data. But it's also hilarious. Click the image below to see it in high res:


The map reads:

It has been known to science for some time that landfall hurricanes can spawn rogue tornadoes in coastal and near-coastal areas. New to science, however, and of pressing concern to resdients of these areas, is the punctuated updraft force capable of lifting aquatic species, particularly predatory members of the Chordata phylum, to sufficient altitudes and velocities such that inland incursion becomes inevitable.

This map is the heroic result of thousands of hours of tedious research from a compendium of scienific teams specializing in areas of oceanography climatology, marine biology and ballistics, and represents mankind's best attempt to understand this deadly phenomenon.


Now, obviously, that whole "thousands of hours of tedious research" line is a joke, but Nelson is notorious for his thorough research, so we felt it necessary to inquire whether any scientists had actually provided input on the map.

"No, no, actual scientific input," he told us. "The map was Drew Skau’s idea from over at He thought I could do something similar to my tornado map but include shark habitats. So I did."

That said, Nelson says the raw data is 100% real. Those are actual coastal shark habitats (via Wikipedia) and actual historic hurricane paths (via NOAA). And landfall hurricanes do, in fact, spawn tornadoes. "But yes," he says, "the analysis is over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek."

"If there is something I can really dig, it’s drafting pseudo-science hyperbole. I don’t get a chance to dismiss reality so thoroughly very often, so I had fun with wild speculation peppered with plausible statements. I wonder if this is how comic book writers always feel?"


More of Nelson's (reality-based) work here and here. See more of his visualization work on his website.