Great Tools to Monitor Hurricanes Using ios

Photo credit: Forsaken Fotos via Visual Hunt / CC BY
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Featured Image Credit: Forsaken Fotos via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Introduction

I have people I care about who’ve been involved in each of the devastating hurricanes recently beginning with Harvey. Slowly overtime I’ve built up a small collection of useful tools for getting first hand information that I decided to share. In addition, currently in the ios App Store if you look under the ‘Featured’ section you’ll find a helpful listing of apps Apple deems useful to people who are anticipating that a hurricane will cross their path. So without further adieu…

Finding Recommended Apps from Apple’s ios App Store

It’s very easy to find the app collection that Apple has designated useful during this years hurricane season. Just open the App Store on any ios device and tap on the Featured category on the bottom menu. When you do so you’ll immediately see this collection of apps on the top line of recommended apps.

ios apps for hurricanes

Weather Tools

Windy App   Free

Provides wind and waves forecast by Windyty, SE

Tap or click on each image below to enlarge it:

Windy’s Browser Alternative

Both tools are the same and pretty amazing…well I can only speak for the ios app really, which is pretty amazing. Not only can you see great visuals for wind speeds but you can see forecasts by 3-5 different forecasting services and determine 28 different variables for locations you zero in on. You can also save the locations you’re interested in tracking and even have customized weather alerts for those locations sent to yourself.

WNYC Hurricane Tracking Map

This browser based tool lets you see exactly where hurricanes are at any given moment in time.

An example using WYNC in Safari to find Irma's current location

An example using WYNC in Safari to find Irma’s current location

Hurricane App by American Red Cross   Free

Communication

FireChat App   Free

A description for FireChat's features in the app store

A description for FireChat’s features in the app store

FireChat is an amazing instant messaging tool if/when it works for communications during disasters. It allows users to create their own mesh networks based solely on Bluetooth without needing to use WiFi or cellular networks. Bluetooth generally works at distances of up to about 300 feet or 100 meters.

The technology is complex and I don’t begin to understand it, but through the use of people who’ve joined a group network, it’s even able to connect greater distance if someone in the smaller network has WiFi connectivity. But all this is predicated upon if it works at all. When it does it’s supposed to be amazing…when it doesn’t it’s apparently useless. Here’s a link to FireChat’s website to learn more.

FireChat's Website

FireChat’s Website

If FireChat doesn’t work for you a website calling themselves Gecko and Fly wrote a helpful article about 4 others that utilize the Bluetooth mesh networking technology too. I could be wrong, but I believe that FireChat was the first to offer this cutting edge technology.

This video describes how FireChat works:

Live Streamed Video

Aside from YouTube, there’s another live streaming website that I’ve found to be invaluable during this most recent set of hurricanes. It’s an app called Periscope that is owned by Twitter. I’m sharing this with a bit of trepidation after a friend tried it based upon my recommendation and immediately encountered porn. Personally, I’ve never encountered porn on Periscope…but then I’ve only used it a few times. When I did I only sought hurricane footage…ideally live streamed videos of the weather’s impact in areas where someone I was worried about resides.

You need to either setup an account with Periscope or login through Twitter. Because I think my search method is pretty safe I’ll describe it. The way that I use Periscope is to look on the bottom menu for a globe icon. I tap on that to pull up a map of North America and then drag the map around using pinch and zoom gestures until I find a livestream I want to view. You can identify active live streams by looking for the red circles. If there are no red circles, then I look for blue circles. Those are very recent live streams. In hurricane areas that are just beginning to be hit, you can usually find a few people who are broadcasting right before and during the early portions of the hurricane. But once it’s progressed the area may lose power in which case these live streams usually end.

Periscope App Free

Live Video Streaming Around the World by Twitter, Inc.

Features of Twitter's Periscope App

Features of Twitter’s Periscope App

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