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noaastorms R package now supports NOAA IBTrACS v4

Earlier this year, I released a simple R package (available at basilesimon/noaastorms) that downloads, cleans and parses NOAA IBtrack data for you.

As the NOAA updated its datasets, noaastorms is now using these!

How to install


Available functions

getStorms: Fetch NOAA historical best track storms data

> df <- getStorms(c('EP'))

> head(df[1:5])
     Serial_Num Season Num Basin Sub_basin    Name
2 1902276N14266   1902  01    EP        MM UNNAMED
3 1902276N14266   1902  01    EP        MM UNNAMED
4 1902276N14266   1902  01    EP        MM UNNAMED
5 1902276N14266   1902  01    EP        MM UNNAMED
6 1902276N14266   1902  01    EP        MM UNNAMED

The first argument is a vector of basin codes from this list:

  • NA: North Atlantic
  • SA: South Atlantic
  • NI: North Indian
  • SI: South Indian
  • EP: East Pacific
  • SP: South Pacific
  • WP: West Pacific

NOAA basins map

To get storms that took place in the Atlantic for example, run getStorms(c('NA', 'SA')).

The second (optional) argument is a date range to filter data with. For example:

dateRange <- c(as.Date('2010-01-01'), as.Date('2012-12-31'))
getStorms(c('NA', 'SA'), dateRange = dateRange)

Will query storms that took place in the Atlantic in 2010 and 2012.


# load a map of the world and
# use `clipPolys` to avoid issues
# when zooming in with `coord_map`
wm <- map_data("world")
data.table::setnames(wm, c("X","Y","PID","POS","region","subregion"))
worldmap <- clipPolys(wm,
  xlim=c(20,110),ylim=c(0, 45),

# load storms for the Atlantic ocean
spStorms <- getStorms(c('NA', 'SA'))

  aes(x = Longitude, y = Latitude,
    group = Serial_Num)) + 
  geom_polygon(data = worldmap,
    aes(x = X, y = Y, group = PID), 
    fill = "whitesmoke",
    colour = "gray10",
    size = 0.2) +
  geom_path(alpha = 0.1, size = 0.8,
    color = "red") +
  coord_map(xlim = c(20,110),
    ylim = c(0, 45)) 

Screenshot of storms

Official changelog (retrieved Aug 16, 2019)


This is the first release of IBTrACS version 04. It is updated weekly.
Release date: March 2019

New features (improvements from v03):

  • Best track data updated daily and contain provisional tracks of recent storms.
  • Reduced formats - Version 4 is available in 3 formats (netCDF, CSV, shapefiles)
  • Consistent formats - The data presented in each format is completely interconsistent (identical).
  • More parameters - More parameters provided by the agencies are provided in IBTrACS
  • Basin assignment - Any system occuring in a basin is included in that basin file (in version 3, the storm was only included in the basin in which it had its genesis)
  • New derived parameters - We provide storm translation speed and direction and other variables requested by users.