March 8, 2021

Gadgetwise Blog: Apps to Track Hurricane Irene

A screenshot from the Hurricane Express app.

As Hurricane Irene makes its way up the East Coast, you may be tempted to hunker by the TV or computer with your three-day supply of batteries, water and MREs to track the storm’s progress.

But you can feel free to go out and test the tensile strength of your umbrella thanks to a number of phone and iPad apps that will keep you current on Irene’s position.

At the top of the list has to be Hurricane Express, a recently released 99-cent iPhone app specializing in – what else? – hurricane tracking.

With information from the National Hurricane Center, the app provides lots of raw data for wonky storm chasers, but also moving radar maps, maps showing the forecasted storm track, wind maps and others as well. You can also check the curated Twitter feed from weather organizations and weather pros, or check the news feed with bulletins and videos.

An upgraded version, called Hurricane, also gives historical data on past storms, which you can compare to current conditions. Usually $4, it is on sale for $2.

The one real drawback is is that the maps are a little hard to see in detail on the phone. For that reason, it may be worthwhile to try Hurricane HD for the iPad ($4), which is easier to read, includes historical data, and can also show multiple storms simultaneously.

Like Hurricane Express, iHurricane HD is dedicated to tracking storms, but unlike that app, iHurricane is free and runs on the iPhone and the iPad. The app shows the current and forecasted path of a storm on an interactive chart. Touch the line and you get details of the eye of the storm at that position, how far away it is from where you are and the speed with which it is approaching. You can also sign up for e-mail alerts to get news of bad weather in advance.

The iHurricane app also has several predictive charts and bulletins, but those can be hard to read on the phone’s small screen. This app is best seen on the iPad.

Serious weather geeks will revel in the raw radar data displayed by the $10 Radarscope app. The app shows feeds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and lets you see the sweeps from specific radar stations. If you know how to spot a “hook echo” that indicates a mesocyclone – often the precursor to a tornado – this is the app for you. You’ll be able to read not only precipitation data, but the speed at which storms are moving. The uninitiated will at least be able to read the clearly written storm alerts, but if you don’t have a degree in meteorology, you might give this one a pass.

NOAA Radar US offers a map using the same data as Radarscope but with less detail, making it easier to read. It looks more like the moving weather maps you may be used to seeing on the TV news. But it is a pretty scant app, not even offering NOAA weather alerts. You get more news from the free app NOAA Now, but no maps.

Many weather apps are great at telling you at what is happening in your area right now (Weather HD is by far the best looking, with lush animations), but few give you much on the encroaching storm. Weather Underground’s, Weather Quickie appears to provide little more, opening to a very abbreviated look at current weather, but click on “complete forecast” and you get comprehensive predictions. You’ll see current conditions, a radar map, marine forecast and tides, forecasts and warnings that are elaborate and in plain English. You can even listen to a NOAA radio broadcast for your area.

Weather Quickie is packed with plenty of features for both the weather freak and those who just want to know if they need an umbrella to go out, but there is one annoying feature: Every time you try to go back to a former page, you are taken all of the way to the first page, so you have to tap again to get back to the detailed forecast. It’s as annoying as the frequency with which radio stations are playing “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”

Article source:

Speak Your Mind