Hurricane Irene, now moving through the Caribbean and perhaps threatening the Southeast by week's end, is only the latest sign of one of the most active hurricane seasons in years. So you want to know where the action is and whether you're in the line of fire. Your smartphone could be your most valuable tool during or after a hurricane, with dozens of apps available to provide crucial information.
Here's a list of apps. Click on the links for download information.
Hurricane HD: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch. $3.99
Hurricane HD lets you track storms, with moving radar and satellite imagery from the National Hurricane center. It provides tropical bulletins, forecasts, and advisories for the Atlantic and Pacific Basins.
You can watch video updates for storms currently underway or forming, and find data on major storms of the past, like Andrew, Hugo and Katrina.
IMap Weather Radio: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android soon. $9.99
Nothing beats having a weather radio for the most up-to-date info, but you can't always have that with you. You do usually have your phone, though, so having this app gives you all the tracking info you need, plus a built-in weather radio. You can tell it up to five locations -- where you are or where you're headed, or where family members are. With iMap Weather Radio, you will receive critical voice and text alerts on life-threatening weather events. The app provides an early warning to help individuals and families seek safety, even in the middle of the night.
"Follow me" feature: Reads your GPS location and delivers alerts to you no matter where you are.
An audio feature not only gives you the latest weather, but also provides audio alerts in the form of beeps followed by a brief description of the alert. The audio alerts you to the information you need when you can't stop to look at the phone, perhaps if you're driving. You can always listen to the alerts and forecast for your area at any time.
The Weather Channel: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Android. Free
The Weather Channel has fully customizable weather maps, animated radar maps, detailed weather conditions and forecasts, severe weather alerts, and a notification bar with the current temperature and severe weather alert indicator.
In addition to the popular location-based local video forecasts, the video section now includes the "Must See Six" videos each day from a national collection.
It allows you to get weather forecasts for your location or search by city, ZIP code, street address or landmark. The app also includes interactive maps that are fully customizable and feature the functionality of Google Maps. Customers can decide to display layers such as radar, clouds, UV index, rainfall and more.
Global Alert Network: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Blackberry. Free
The Global Alert Network is a location-aware network platform that automatically broadcasts audible hands-free alerts to mobile devices. You choose to subscribe to weather or traffic alerts, which are geo-targeted to your location.
The application running on the phone keeps track of the phone's location, not the Global Alert Network servers. When an alert is created, the alert zone is downloaded to the phone and the phone makes the determination if you are affected by the alert and whether the alert should be played.
Eton ARCPT300W American Red Cross Axis Self-Powered Safety Hub with Weather Radio and USB Cell Phone Charger. $70
A self-powered device that's designed to prepare you for the worst of situations, the Axis has everything you'd need in the event of an emergency, power outage or natural disaster. It has a variety of features that will help you whether you're on the road or at home without any power. It can be hand cranked or plugged into a laptop or AC adapter via mini-USB cable (included), or powered by three AAA batteries (not included).
The Axis is equipped with an AM/FM/NOAA weather radio. You can tune into a variety of AM/FM stations and seven preset NOAA weather channels. To access these stations select the AM, FM or WB (weather band) channels 1-7 with the band selector switch.
Tips on hurricane preparedness, storm surge, marine safety, with archives so you can track the past accuracy of storm forecasts.
The American Red Cross has an app called Shelter View that tells you what shelters are open and how close they are to capacity.
Disasterassistance.gov. After the storm is over, this free app from the government helps you locate and apply for relief.