Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Track approaching hurricanes with these great Android and iOS apps

22

August

Hurricane Irene looks to be the first Atlantic hurricane of the season to threaten the U.S. mainland. As a longtime Floridian and veteran journalist with lots of hurricane experience, I like to have plenty of information while tracking incoming storms. There are lots of apps available for your mobile devices that can give you the tools you need to prepare and stay safe when a storm is approaching. After testing several apps on both the Android and iOS platforms I have narrowed the field to two favorites.

Hurricane for iOS

screen_shot_2011-08-22_at_1.34.56_pm.pngThe Hurricane app for iOS by Kitty Code is one of the most comprehensive apps I've seen and it will give you all the information you need for hurricanes past, present and future. The features are so extensive that I can't list them all here. To give you and idea, however, here are some of the included features:

General Features

  • Push notifications (with customization coming soon)
  • Over 50 Animated WORLD WIDE satellite image loops
  • Animated US Regional and Territory Radar
  • Tropical Outlooks - Invest - updated with official NHC/JTWC info
  • Sea Surface Temperatures
  • Storm Names
  • Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Active Storm Features:

  • Push notifications
  • Interactive 5 day forecast cone
  • Each forecast point's location
  • Each forecast point's estimated wind speed
  • Your distance from each forecast point

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This app is packed with all kinds of animated maps and computer models, videos and blog posts from hurricane experts at HurrricaneTrack.com and it even has historical information for Atlantic hurricanes dating back to 1851. This app is rated at 4+ stars in the iTunes App Store and when you see it you'll know why. The standard Hurricane app will run on all devices running iOS 4 and above, including the iPad and is $2.99. For a better iPad experience get the Hurricane HD app which is optimized for the iPad and is $3.99. Hopefully the two apps will be combined into one universal app for all iOS devices in the future.

 

SeaStorm for Android

hi-124-13.pngSeaStorm by Poignant Projects is another very comprehensive app for tracking storms with excellent graphics. The $1.99 app is rated to run on devices running Android 1.6 and above. It is optimized for tablets but ran fine on my Motorola Xoom running Honeycomb 3.2, although the graphics broke up a bit when in landscape mode.

Features include:

  • Quick overview of active hurricanes, tropical storms, and other cyclones
  • Multiple types of regional summary maps to choose from
  • Per-storm advisory & discussion text from the experts at the National Hurricane Center
  • Forecast cone (5-day uncertainty track), wind probability, and storm surge maps (when available)
  • Tap on any map to view full screen with pinch-to-zoom, drag, and scroll support to see the area you're interested in
  • Background notifications of new and/or upgraded storms
  • Share a snapshot of the screen with any app that supports it (Gmail, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

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An in-app purchase of $.99 adds the ability to view active National Hurricane Center forecast models (also known as spaghetti models) on an interactive map complete with panning, zooming, and individual model point information when tapped. The add-on also features selectable models, start times, and run lengths. This feature is only available for devices running Android 2.2 and above. The developer notes, however, that animated models are very processor-intensive and can drain your battery quickly.

In addition to these two app choices there are many other choices in the Android Market and the iTunes App Store, some of which are free. For Android a close second choice was Hurricane Hound Free (there is a paid version too) and for iOS, iHurricane HD was a close second choice as well. Listed below are some more, including one for iOS that is a checklist you can use when preparing for an oncoming storm.

For Android

For iOS

If you carry a smartphone you should get one of these apps to stay informed as Irene and future storms approach. Do it today and make sure you and your family are prepared.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 13, 2011 9:51pm]

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