Your Digital Toolkit for the Atlantic Hurricane Season

It looks like New Orleans is going to take a shot from a potential Category 1 hurricane by Saturday. Half my family is from New Orleans, and I’m confident in saying that none of us would be nervous about a Cat 1. However, it’s not so much the winds that are the problem with maybe-Hurricane Barry; it’s the water.

Whether or not you’re in New Orleans right now, there are resources you can use if you find yourself facing a weather catastrophe. Here’s what I recommend.This app comes packed with all sorts of useful information about what you should do before, during, and after a flood. Better yet, it works when your internet connection doesn’t—an important fact to consider if, or when, your connection goes out due to the conditions. You’ll be able to use the app to receive notifications about flood watches and warnings in your area and, if need be, send an “I’m safe” message to your contacts (if you can get a connection). Worse comes to worse, the app also comes with a handy strobe light, flashlight, and audible alert, in case you need to get rescuers’ attentions.

Consider a walkie-talkie app

A lot of people bring up Zello (iOS, Android) as the go-to app for emergency situations, incorrectly assuming that this “walkie-talkie” app will work when your wifi and cellular connections go away. That’s not quite true; it needs one or the other to function. However, it’s a helpful, no-fuss communication app that you can use to see communications from your contacts or trending channels (such as those dedicated to the hurricane barreling down on you).

While you could also probably get away with just sending texts, being able to send and receive quick voice messages via Zello is certainly useful. That’s especially true if your area’s emergency services are being inundated with calls. The app is kind of like having a little police scanner in your pocket, and you can use it to help your neighbor (or receive help yourself).

If you’re in the New Orleans area, Zello is the app used by the Cajun Navy to assist in rescue and supply operations.

Sign up for Waze (iOS, Android)

We’ve all heard of Waze. In fact, you’re probably using it right now to avoid as much traffic on your terrible commute home as possible. It’s also useful in crisis situations, as the app can update with useful information about closed or flooded routes, evacuation points, and other critical knowledge if, or when, you need to move to a new location.

That said, it never hurts to have a second opinion, too. Make sure you’re cross-referencing Waze’s information against official sources, just in case.

As long as you can, use the web’s many resources

Assuming you still have an internet connection, there are plenty of resources you can turn to for information. Though it sounds weird to say so, I always head on over to /r/TropicalWeather during hurricane season, as it can be an incredible source of information for the latest data (and images) for major tropical storms and unofficial reports from people on the ground. Plenty of people in affected areas will frequently drop into major threads with key information—where to find sandbags, emergency shelters, and the lot—and I’ve even seen some Redditors offer up their sheltered places for those in critical need. You can even ask for help related to more obscure evacuation and preparedness questions.

Beyond that, there’s also the /r/TropicalWeather Discord server, for real-time conversations about tropical unpleasantness. Depending on where you are, I’d use either the Subreddit or the Discord to locate some must-follow Twitter handles in your area, such as local news stations, meteorologists, or emergency services. Set up device notifications so you don’t miss any important information as long as you have a working connection.

A number of people recommend trying the “Hurricane Tracker” app for iOS and Android, if you don’t mind paying a little bit for the convenience of having a lot of meteorological information on your device. Otherwise, Tropical Tidbits is an excellent resources for keeping tabs on the science of a storm, as is the hard-on-the-eyes spaghettimodels.com.

I’d also recommend bookmarking the National Hurricane Center site, so you can check up on the latest information and advisories (or their incredible satellite photos). I’m a fan of windy.com, mainly because it’s so pretty and informative. Last, but certainly not least, make sure you’re checking your local government’s checklist for hurricane preparedness (if they have one), so you can make sure you’ve done everything you need to do in advance of a big storm. The Department of Homeland Security also has a checklist worth looking at.

This content was originally published here.

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