Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the Carolina coast, and will bring winds, flooding, and storm surge that will rival some of the worst storms in memory in that area. But that’s not all: after an extremely quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic, the tropics have sprung to life and meteorologists have good reason to believe that the rest of the month could be just as busy.
While millions have evacuated from the coasts ahead of the storm, some have decided to stay put in an attempt to ride it out. Inland, there is a significant risk for widespread flooding as some places receive as much as a half-year’s worth of rainfall in just a few days. So what can you do to stay safe if you’re in Florence or any other tropical storm or hurricane’s path?
Thankfully, there are plenty of hurricane trackers to help you prepare for these potentially deadly events. Whether it’s the most advanced NOAA predictive models or simply tips for finding an emergency shelter, here are the best apps and websites to prepare for the worst.
Initially released in 2009, Hurricane Tracker has been one of the most popular hurricane trackers for years. The app uses National Hurricane Center (NHC) data to relay audio briefings and maps. Hurricane Tracker also broadcasts all NHC advisories and maps in real time to keep you up to date on the latest developments. You can customize the app to receive alerts as new storms form and/or as existing systems make landfall.
Similarly, the Model Watch feature uses predictive models to better prepare for any swerve Mother Nature decides to send your way. Unlike the other offerings on this list, this app will cost you a few bucks, but when it comes to tried and true dedicated hurricane apps, Hurricane Tracker is our pick.
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The American Red Cross created the Hurricane app and it’s one of the best free hurricane trackers for Android and iOS. Hurricane allows you to monitor conditions in your immediate area as well as locations currently within a storm system. The app of course incorporates an interactive storm tracker map and also predictive models to help you plan for the worst ahead of time.
Like other apps, Hurricane will relay real time alerts and updates, however, one of the standout functions is the in-app communication feature. Anyone in the direct path of the hurricane or storm system can post custom messages or select status updates within the app. This allows you to easily to communicate with loved ones without leaving the app itself.
The Red Cross has compiled a series of step-by-step guides to help individuals prepare for a storm, and advice to heed during and after a hurricane. This includes a tool to lead individuals to their nearest Red Cross shelter, as well as tips for managing drinking water if your area has been flooded our plagued by power outages. It is important to note that the Hurricane app is available in both in English and Spanish.
If you do end up losing power during a storm, it’s best to keep a portable power source on hand just in case. That said, here are some of the choicest portable generators and power stations on the market.
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The AccuWeather site isn’t the sexiest page to behold, but all aesthetics and user experience aside the page relays a bevy of useful meterological information. A series of tabs along the top of the screen separate the globe into five oceanic regions. Once you’ve pinpointed a specific area, data and models are compartmentalized into multiple comprehensible tables. One of these tables clearly breaks down the most critical storm metrics (status, wind speed, gust speeds, location, and directional movement) into a basic two-column grid.
The Forecast Eye Path feature in the center of the page displays landfall estimates and categorical system upgrades/downgrades throughout the predicted storm path. The Interactive Hurricane Tracker seems a little squished in the top right of the screen but fortunately this table is clickable. Once the tracker has been opened separately, you can select the system or systems you’d like to monitor from a dropdown menu overhead.
The NOAA National Hurricane Center Tracker certainly looks like a .gov website — but regardless of it’s oldschool layout, the page still displays all of NOAA’s scientific data in a clean, simple format. The basic clickable grid above the interactive meteorological map allows you to activate or deactivate three basic features: forecast length, forecast track line, and initial wind field. Forecast length can be set to either “Full” or “three day” however it is important to note that the “Full” forecast function will also relay the three day forecast.
The map is also color coordinated to illustrate watches, warning, and current wind extents for the predicted path. Below this fullscreen map is a small table containing the latest information on directional wind speeds, maximum sustained wind speeds, movement, an exact latitude and longitude location. A small section of text beneath these tools and legends explains the model NOAA uses to predict tropical storms and hurricane systems based on historical data.
In the event that you need to evacuate due to a hurricane, we’ve also curated a list of items to keep stowed in a car emergency kit just in case.
The entire top of the Stormpulse screen is an interactive map. You can easily zoom in or out with your mouse wheel or by simply using the buttons on the screen. The map displays all hurricanes and systems with a region and you can easily scroll over a storm to look at real time as well as predicted information. A small table in the corner of this interactive map relays the latest updates information on the categorical status of the system itself, location, windspeed, location, and pressure.
The RiskPulse feature expands upon this visual data and paints a clearer image of what this visual data means in layman’s terms. This explainer also includes information of location specific rainfall totals, landfall estimates, categorical increases/decreases, storm surge, and much more.
While most of our infrastructure currently isn’t capable of withstanding even the most moderate of tropical storms, some of the best minds in engineering are working on a series of flood-proof homes to prepare us for a wetter and warmer world moving forward.