Hurricane tracking: Apps for keeping an eye on hurricane Irene

Hurricane tracking: If you want to track the expected path of hurricane Ilene this week, check out these weather feeds.

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    This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) places Hurricane Irene about 55 miles northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico. According to the National Hurricane Center, Irene boasts maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.
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On Aug. 22, hurricane Irene swept through Puerto Rico, flooding streets and wrecking foliage on a path that could take it to Florida. The current track has Irene headed toward Haiti, the Bahamas, and possibly Florida and the Carolinas. Will it maintain that track?

Now is good time to learn about how to track hurricanes, and what sites or smartphone applications are most useful for learning about how to prepare for a hurricane.

For example, MyWeather.com has released a list of the top 5 myths regarding hurricanes and their realities, all in the aim of helping people protect themselves.

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But if you want to stay mobile and stay on top of hurricane Irene's progress, there are a slew of “hurricane-tracker” applications for tablets and smart-phones.

The Hurricane HD app is equipped with "video updates for storms currently underway or forming," notes ABC News. It covers hurricanes all over the world. The app costs $2.99.

The iMap Weather Radio app draws on your phone or tablet's GPS and alerts users if they enter an area "where a watch/warning is subsequently issued," among other things. The app costs $9.99. As advertised, this is a radio app. While some users swear by its voice and text alerts, one user says the updates arrive about 30 minutes after the National Weather Service issues a warning: "It once 'alerted' me of a tornado warning after the storms had cleared out." He recommends a NOAA all hazards weather radio (or see the American Red Cross radio below) for faster alerts.

The Weather Channel app (free) is perhaps the most exhaustive, including weather maps, animated radar maps, detailed weather conditions and forecasts, severe weather alerts" and more are available locally or by search. It gets high ratings by most users, but some say they prefer the Weather Channel's mobile site over the application.

You can also get free weather reports and alerts on your phone or computer by following certain Twitter sites such as: The Weather Channel's twitter feed @weatherchannel

or MyWeather.com tweets: @MyWeather,

or Accu Weather's @breakingweather

Or you could could just to a search for "Irene" on your Twitter account and get all of the above in one feed.

Like iMap Weather Radio, the Global Alert Network app is hands-free: it vocalizes pertinent facts about the users current location without any request from the driver. It's available on iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry phone OS 4.5 and above.

Of course, if the power goes out, and your phone or tablet runs out of juice, you might go to Plan B: The Eton ARCPT300W American Red Cross Axis Self-Powered Safety Hub, also called the Axis. This is more like an automated know-it-all than a device. Although it is by far the most expensive ($70) option, the Axis "can be hand cranked or plugged into a laptop or AC adapter," which means total reliability, and it is hooked up to AM, FM, and NOAA weather radio.

[Editor's note: This article has been updated from its original version to show that the Global Alert Network app is now available for iPhone.]

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