Hurricanes and tropical storms since 1851, as far as we can tell. Poster print options available here. You are looking up at the Earth; Antarctica at center, the Americas to the right, Australia and Asia to the left, and Africa at the bottom.
What Is It?
Ok, here's a bottoms-up view of known tropical storms and hurricanes dating back to 1851. The fine folks at NOAA keep an archive of storm paths with wind speed, storm name, date, among other attributes, and are always updating and refining information for past events based on historical evidence and educated hunches. The data are awesome and they make it available in several formats. Here's what it looks like slapped onto a polar projection (looking up at Antarctica) with point color tied to intensity...
A couple of things stood out to me about this data...
Hurricanes clearly abhor the equator and fling themselves away from the warm waters of their birth as quickly as they can. Paging Dr. Freud.
The void circling the image is the equator. Hurricanes can never ever cross it. Check out the oddball to hit South America, though.
Detection has skyrocketed since satellite technology but mostly since we started logging storms in the eastern hemisphere. Also the proportionality of storm severity looks to be getting more consistent year to year with the benefit of more data.
Anyways have at it, and you can find a superultramega-sized version here or check out poster print options here. And check out the slightly animated version of hurricane seasons since 1978 here.
The best part about this process was finding a map projection that would be both cool looking and show the circuitous structure of the data. I still prefer the South Pole Stereographic but here are some of the also-rans. Maybe you'll find one of them more orienting...
Also when first registering the data, I accidentally assigned time as one of the location coordinates and, after the initial disappointment of what I though was mucked up data, realized that what I was actually seeing was a timeline visualization of where we've historically paid mind to collecting storm data. Check out this bit of happenstance that showed me we only really started logging the East and South hemisphere versions of these things around 1978 (which is also the year that I ultimately started keeping track of things)...
Increasing satellite detection -particularly geostationary satellites, brought the southeast quad of the globe 'online.' The two charts are a maybe-mind-bending look at the when and where of detection, showing the abrupt inclusion of hurricanes (known as Typhoons, locally) from other parts of the world in the data archive.
Other Sort-Of Related Maps
If this map is interesting to you, you might be amenable to plunging down the rabbit hole of related visualizations...
Tornado Tracks since 1950: