Why we love it
This award-winning set of maps sets a new standard in analysis and visual storytelling. The bivariate+hexbin mapping technique proves to be as gorgeous and sophisticated as it is intuitive. We love how these maps capture the geographic and historic complexity of this epic US drought. Combining five years of weekly data, the maps uncover how conditions vary in both intensity and length. Colour indicates severity while size indicates frequency. For example, large deep purple symbols indicate where exceptional drought was experienced almost continuously for five years. This is geographic analysis at its best.
Why it works
The main map stands on its own while supplemental maps give a different perspective on the same data. This works because it adds nuance to the story and shows the care taken by the mapmaker. It also highlights that there is no single “best” way to tell a story. The judicious use of call-outs directly on the maps, the powerful legend, and the minimal-yet-elegant basemaps combine to turn a big, messy dataset into understanding. Wise use of an equal-area projection ensures each hexbin indicates the same sized area. A companion blog post explains how anyone can re-use this work.
I have way too much fun looking for ways to understand and present data visually, engage users, and write about it. Otherwise, I’m chasing around toddlers and wrangling chickens. Life is good.