Stay Safe by Keeping Tabs on Hurricanes through Mobile Apps

Mobile-device-worldTechnologies may change by leaps and bounds, but the forces of nature remain raw, powerful and – oftentimes – destructive.

While technology may never rival the power of nature, it has proven to be an invaluable tool in helping people protect themselves against the potential damage hurricanes bring. Information is the tool meteorologists and hurricane experts rely on the most – thanks to technological advances such as satellites and radars.

Today, these technologies are simply a touch away from anyone who has a smartphone or tablet – be it an iPhone, iPad, Android device or the newest Windows 8 tablet. Beyond combining several gadgets in one sleek package, these devices can now empower any user with valuable hurricane information – through a growing range of hurricane apps.

As the country faces another hurricane season, it might be wise to add “download hurricane apps” to your hurricane preparedness list.

The Choices before the Storm
What app, you ask? The choices seem to be growing steadily with emerging software developers and increasingly accessible technologies. As with most apps, the basic features of most hurricane apps are similar:

  •  Visual

A picture of a hurricane is definitely worth a thousand words. This is why almost all hurricane apps provide high-resolution images of hurricanes as well as maps tracking their projected paths through satellite and radar.

  •  Informative

Apart from providing warning information such as a hurricane’s estimated time of landfall, wind speeds and duration, many apps include checklists and planning maps, among other preparation tools. One of the top-rated apps by users and the media, Hurricanes by American Red Cross, for example, includes comprehensive details such as step-by-step to-do instructions when cell towers are down and the power is out. This app also goes a step further by including a built-in test that will enable users to find out how ready they are for the hurricane.

  •  Geographical

Do you want information that covers the whole country or prefer tracking hurricanes in a specific area? Hurricane Hound Free by STKI Concepts, for instance, covers the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins. It lets users choose the ocean basin they are interested in, one of three graphical themes, and their preferred wind speed units.

  •  Interactive

Many apps easily connect to Facebook, Twitter, email and other social media to let users get in touch with their family and friends, and update them of their current circumstances. WDSU Hurricane Central by HTVMA Solutions, Inc. even lets users share their hurricane photos and videos.

Other considerations that may limit your choices are the apps’ hardware and software requirements. Aside from the performance, speed and graphics quality of your device, an app, such as Hurricane Software by HurricaneSoftware.com, may also require GPS and internet connection to function optimally.

The only way to know which apps suit your needs the most is trying them out yourself. After all, it only takes several minutes to download and install each app – except for some which may also cost you about 99 cents to a few dollars.

These paid apps are often mainly ad-free versions of the free apps, or include some value-added functions. For example, SeaStorm by Poignant Projects, which can be downloaded for $1.99, packs more punch with an optional forecast model viewer add-on. It has an interactive map complete with panning, zooming and individual model point information, as well as selectable models, start time and run length.

Before you decide on keeping all apps that you have tried, ask yourself: What good will 10 great apps do you when they drain your device’s battery and memory faster than a hurricane’s maximum sustained wind?

Rate your apps based on your own criteria and choose the top two or three apps to keep – and update regularly.

Covering All Bases
Remember that preparing for a hurricane means also preparing for possible flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes.

Downloading an app is one step out of many. You may also install other disaster preparedness apps to complement your hurricane app, but make sure that you cover all bases by planning several strategies for different scenarios.

For long-term protection, ensure that your family, as well as homes, businesses and other properties, are covered by adequate insurance. Most homeowners’ insurance policies, for instance, do not cover flooding. Review your existing policies – and update or upgrade if necessary.

After the Hurricane
How did your apps help you before, during and after the hurricane? Find time to leave ratings, comments and suggestions on the apps’ download page. Apart from informing potential app users of your actual experience, your feedback will also help software developers improve the apps – and possibly save lives and properties.

About Brian Hendricks

Brian Hendricks is the President of Fidelity Insurance Group. Brian started Fidelity in 2003 with 0 clients. Today Fidelity Insurance Group is a Premier Independent Insurance Agency in Florida with over 3,000 families and businesses insured. Brian currently serves on advisory boards for 2 of the largest property insurance companies in Florida. Knowlege, Integrity, and Committment are his and his agency's guiding principles.
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