Hurricane-tracking apps for iOS

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane-tracking apps for iOS

With Hurricane Irene making landfall in North Carolina, you're going to want up-to-the-minute information on the storm, especially if you live in the area or have relatives and friends who might be affected. Fortunately you can get an app for your iOS device that will give you all the latest information.

(Credits: cNET)

Note: Android users can find hurricane-tracking apps here

There are several apps for iOS that let you track hurricanes around the globe. But the best hurricane-tracking apps give you up-to-the minute storm information, include radar and satellite images, and offer detailed push alerts for warnings and storm intensity changes. We found some very feature-rich apps for both iPhone and iPad and narrowed it down to one great app for each device.

Obviously, for mobility purposes, the iPhone will probably be your best choice for the latest updates and hurricane information right in your pocket. On the iPad, the added screen real estate means you'll be able to easily view weather maps and watch radar animations on the larger screen. Whichever you choose, you'll be able to use the information from your app combined with local news sources to try to stay safe during Hurricane Irene and the rest of this year's hurricane season.

This week's collection of iOS apps are all about tracking hurricanes. The first is for iPhone and offers tons of features for tracking weather news, maps, and animated radar images. The second is perfect for iPad users, taking full advantage of the larger screen. It also comes with tons of storm information to explore.

Hurricane ($2.99) for iPhone shows you detailed hurricane information and is set up to get you the latest weather changes quickly. Immediately upon launch, the app displays storms that are currently being tracked, but also gives older hurricane information if you scroll down. Across the top of the interface, you have tabs to narrow your storm search to Atlantic Ocean, East Pacific, and World weather alerts. Across the bottom of the interface, you can browse through 2011 storms; get info on storms from past years; look through Data Feeds that include satellite images, weather outlooks, and sea temperatures; check out the latest news and video; and get up-to-the minute updates with the app's integrated Twitter feed and push notifications.

Use the Tracking Map to see where a hurricane currently is, then use the arrows to see its predicted path incrementally. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)
Hurricane for iPhone is an excellent way to stay on top of the latest weather, but also offers tons of detailed information for those who really want to learn about hurricanes. After touching a current storm's name, you're presented with a list of options to learn more. The Tracking Map shows the hurricane from high above, letting you touch arrows to show incremental steps of the hurricane's predicted path. Touch the Satellite button to see animated satellite images of approaching hurricanes. The Forecast button shows several images of probable paths and wind speeds and also predicts intensity at different points on the hurricane's path. Hit the Radar button to check the current intensity in different areas. You also have a Bulletin button to see where the latest hurricane warnings are along the path of the storm.

Hurricane for iPhone has all the features you need for checking conditions on the go. Clearly, you should not rely completely on any app when lives may be in danger, but with this app and knowledge of the latest warnings from local newscasts, you'll be better prepared with all the info right in your pocket.

Hurricane Tracker HD ($2.99) is an excellent severe weather-tracking app for iPad that takes advantage of the added screen real estate to show detailed weather maps and info. The interface consists of a list of buttons down the left side of the screen for navigation, with content for each item in a large window on the right. The app loads up with the overview screen that shows you the latest major storm, its projected path, a list of all the storms that are currently being tracked, quick links to the biggest hurricanes, and more. But Hurricane Tracker HD doesn't stop there.

Touch the Satellites button to see different views of the current hurricane on your iPad screen. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Along with the detailed overview of a storm, you can listen to audio or watch video updates created by people associated with the Hurricane Tracker app, or you can explore tons of other content to get more info. A real-time Updates button brings you to the app's Twitter feed where you can get the latest information about the current storm. A Satellites button shows several satellite shots of the affected area and is extremely easy to read on the iPad's larger screen. You also can view the latest warnings and discussions from major weather centers; discuss a coming storm with others in the Talkin' Tropics forums using the integrated Web browser; and view more general information about hurricanes, like how they are rated and storm-naming standards for the current hurricane season. All the options are very easy to navigate and understand, though we did experience some lag issues while waiting for some of the more complicated animations to load.

Hurricane Tracker HD offers an enormous amount of hurricane information and all the maps and media you could ever want. The audio and video updates by the app creators sound professional and informed, the satellite images are crisp, and we only experienced minor lag issues when loading some of the more detailed animations. If you like tracking weather systems or want a way to stay informed about a big storm in your area, Hurricane Tracker HD offers an easy-to-navigate interface and a wealth of hurricane information.

Do you have a better hurricane-tracking app you want to tell us about? Let us know in the comments!