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As you’ve probably heard, Hurricane Irene is set to hit much of the East Coast of the United States starting today and continuing throughout the weekend. National and local authorities are taking the threat seriously and evacuations are happening from the Carolinas all the way up to New York City.
As the authorities prepare, so can you. In addition to grabbing necessary supplies like food and water, you can load up your iPhone with applications that will help you track the storm, prepare you with tips, or give you a utility that can help during the actual event.
Here are five iPhone applications that can help you weather the storm:
1. The Weather Channel
While the Weather Channel’s free application for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad is an obvious first choice, it’s an important one nonetheless. On top of great features like current temperatures and hourly forecasts, this real-time app has detailed radar and maps that let you know where a hurricane is and how severe it should be when it hits. The app includes constantly updated warnings straight from the National Weather Service.
2. WPBF Hurricane Tracker
West Palm Beach, Fla. news channel WPBF has its own free hurricane tracker application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Although the station is out of Florida, the app is a surprisingly robust resource for anyone in the U.S. expecting a hurricane. Not only can you see hurricanes and tropical storms in real-time on a map, the app has a list of ways you can prepare your home and family for hurricanes. There’s also a checklist of recommended supplies you should have if you’re faced with this situation.
You should have a standard flashlight in your home or apartment already, though it never hurts to have an extra torch. The $.99 Flashlight iPhone 4 app by i4software turns the LED light on the back of the iPhone 4 into a powerful flashlight. If you have an older model iPhone without the LED light, another free “Flashlight.” application can turn your screen into a flashlight and while it’s certainly dimmer than an LED light, it’s better than nothing.
4. TuneIn Radio
One of the best ways to keep current on what’s happening in your area when the electricity is out is to listen to local radio stations. If you’re like me, you may not actually own an old radio. However, the free TuneIn Radio app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, lets you listen to all of your local radio stations. I tested it briefly and it was able to pick up all of the AM and FM stations in New York City and they played just fine.
5. CNN for iPhone
This last slot could really be reserved for any major news outlet (and there are several good choices) but I’m placing the free CNN application here because the network is known for its disaster coverage. On top of that, this application lets some users watch a live stream of CNN if he or she subscribes to CNN on cable TV. If you don’t subscribe to CNN on cable, the app still features up-to-the-minute coverage with stories in text, photos and videos. Ideally, if your local area news channel has an application or a decent mobile site, you can use that to keep informed as well. For a broader real-time look at what’s happening, CNN is the place.