Short version: JStrack is written by and for people who are in areas that are prone to hits from
tropical systems (currently only in the Tropical Atlantic). It's intended to display the NHC/TPC data
and give you what you need to make decisions, etc.. It does NOT, nor will it ever, attempt to do
any forecasting on its own---I leave that to the gurus at the NHC/TPC.
Now for the more detailed (and hopefully, at least reasonably complete) description....
Key features include:
- Two methods of automatic data updates (depending on your system capabilities):
- Automatic data updates via incoming e-mail (the WX-ATLAN list
- an FTP script to grab data from the NHC's ftp server, and an autoftp script to make it
run automatically at scheduled intervals.
- Three maps, courtesy of Ron Murphy, NWS Birmingham:
- Overall picture
- US East Coast
- US Gulf Coast + S. FL.
- As of version 3.3.0: Caribbean close-up view (thanks again, Ron!)
- Plots wind radii (you have to look at more than just where the eye is...)
- Plots NHC/TPC probabilities data if available
- Menus associated with any past/current storm position:
- Clicking mouse button one (normally the left button) on any storm location pulls up a menu
from which you can get lots of data on the storm at that point in time.
- Clicking mouse button three (normally the right button) in a general area pulls up a menu of
storm positions in that area, from which you can select one, and get the above menu. This is
useful in situations (e.g., Danny, 1997) where a storm is barely moving between advisories,
and the chart gets so busy that it's hard to get just the right spot for the advisory you
- Ability to display GOES-East visible, infrared, and water vapor satellite imagery
(current images and image loops). Requires Img extension (and, of course, an Internet
- Ability to overlay the above GOES-East imagery (except image loops) on top of the tracking chart.
- Ability to save an image file (GIF, JPEG, TIFF, etc.) of the main window from within JStrack,
without the need for external programs. Requires Img extension.
- Given user's home coordinates, 'X' plotted at that point on the map
- Given user's home coordinates, JStrack can warn the user if the storm is currently within a given
number (def. 60) of nautical miles, or is forecast to come within that distance (this part assumes
a straight line between forecast points, and should NOT be considered 100% accurate!)
- Ability to run user-defined commands when storm data is updated for a storm currently on the screen
and/or for a new storm, and/or for situations where the storm is, or is forecast to be, within the
above distance in nautical miles. This can be used to wake you up in a situation where the storm
is a potential threat, and missing an advisory could put you in a dangerous situation. It has also
been used by at least three web sites to do a screen capture and update a web page (for 24x7 ops).
- Built-in listing of the Saffir-Simpson scale, along with descriptions of typical damage for each
- Wind speeds, the storm's speed (movement), distances, etc., can all be displayed in either KT/NM or
MPH/Miles, depending on the user's preference.
- Manual entry of storm data (crude, but available)
- Storm data from past years (as far back as 1851). Note that only 1986 and beyond are included
with the main JStrack distribution. The others are available from the
Downloads page if you want them.