Any hopes that Hurricane Irene might swing further east and somehow avoid smacking into the U.S. along the Eastern Seaboard have nearly vanished. While the storm’s weakened somewhat from a Category 3 (111 to 130 mph winds) to a Category 2 (96 to 110 mph winds), it could well strengthen again before it makes landfall in North Carolina tomorrow morning. Vacationers and others presently jamming North Carolina’s roads to get out of the way of this “once in half-a-century” storm are no doubt doing so with good reason.
If you’re not already tracking the not-so-lovely lady-monster on your mobile device or tablet, you might want to glance at one of the following iOS or Android apps.
Take Hurricane ($2.99) for the iPhone by Kitty Code. It’s currently pulling an encouraging four out of five stars across both versions with 1,007 user ratings. It’s basically a one-stop info-shop devoted to tracking maps, satellite views, five-day forecasts, radar and bulletins related to hurricanes. You can see Hurricane Irene’s full path, from its starting classification point to its current position and if you want quick metrics on any given storm, all you need to do is tap on one to summon informational pop-ups that detail wind speed, storm speed and direction, pressure and so forth.
Like any good iOS app with location service enabled, it’ll even automatically tell you how far you are from various points in the storm. And if you’re looking for historical info, it has “detailed, interactive” historical hurricane data for the Atlantic (back to 1851) and the East and Central Pacific (back to 1949). The iPad version, Hurricane HD ($3.99), basically prettifies all of the above, offers a more easy-to-navigate interface and adds video and blog updates from HurricaneTrack.com.
If you’re an Android users, the app of choice seems to be Hurricane Hound (free with ads, $1.99 for ad-free), a hurricane tracker that uses Google Maps as its backdrop. It’ll track both forecasts and locations of Atlantic and East Pacific hurricanes and tropical storms, point out areas the National Weather Service is keeping tabs on and offer standard NWS “tropical outlooks and discussions, public advisories, forecasts, and satellite imagery.”
Another Android hurricane app worth a look: Hurricane Software, a freebie (though still in beta) that lets you view hurricane coordinates data, high resolution maps, satellite images, warning information and storm tracks.
Alternatively, there’s always general weather app standbys like The Weather Channel (for iOS or Android) or something called iMapWeather Radio (for iOS only) that’ll let you tap weather forecasts and “receive critical voice and text alerts on life-threatening weather events.”
Of course there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned hand-crank-powered radio (be sure to buy one with a dedicated NOAA option). It certainly doesn’t hurt, in the event cell towers go down (or jam up), to have something like that handy as backup.