Tech Buzz

Kathleen Buccleugh

Hurricane tracking apps

| August 31, 2012

Hurricane Isaac is now a slow-moving storm system — but hurricane season continues through Nov. 30, so there’s still plenty of time to download and use a tracking application. These two apps are free and are packed with useful information, especially if you often drive through hurricane-affected areas.

Hurricane Hub

This comprehensive storm tracking app is well-organized and easy to use, two simple — but not always easy to find — requirements. With information about resources, volunteer opportunities, hurricane categories, preparing and coping with the aftermath and more, it’s ambitious, and quite successfully so. As shown in the picture to the right, the top menu items are The Hub, where you find basics such as latest news, volunteer links and a list of historic storms; Maps, where you find nine map options, including three- and five-day cone models for active storms, Gulf maps and Bahamas maps; Prep & After, where you find information about evacuating, shelters and storm preparation tips; Eye-report, where you find “check my house” and “find family” functions, though I can’t attest to whether they work because they were “not active at this time”; and Connections, where you find the Hurricane Hub Facebook, Twitter, RSS feed and text alert options. Available for Android and iPhone.

 

Hurricane Software

Arguably for more advanced storm trackers, Hurricane Software truly focuses on the storms, and not the preparation or aftermath as Hurricane Hub does. Using GPS satellites and Google maps, the app finds your current location and denotes it with a blinking dot. Using your fingers on the touchscreen, you can zoom in and out to show where storms are in relation to you. Each storm’s current and projected path is marked, as well as forecasts for category, wind speed, latitude and longitude. In settings, you can toggle between street and satellite view, Atlantic and eastern Pacific view and portrait, landscape or auto rotate. Other features of this app are satellite maps and National Weather Service alerts. The satellite maps are where you might need to think back to that geography lesson about infrared temperature, wind speed probabilities and spaghetti models. OK, I didn’t learn those in geography, either. But it’s still interesting to try to read them and at the very least, use this app to view the main map and to sign up for email alerts. Available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7.