Smart phones, social media sites helpful during hurricane season
May 25, 2011 at 12:25 a.m.
This hurricane season, cell phones will serve more of a purpose than to just make calls to check on the well-being of loved ones.
A growing number of smartphone apps, storm-related websites and social media sites will allow users the opportunity to stay informed, prepared and safe this hurricane season, which officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.
"You are able to find out a lot about the impact of the storms this hurricane season or during any inclement weather," said Scott Cordero, the meteorologist-in-charge at the Corpus Christi Forecast Office of the National Weather Service. "When all communication ceases, partly because the electricity is out, it is a great way to get information."
The National Weather Service has become more active in social media, which provides users with the opportunity to view storm-related posts from authorities, neighbors and friends located in different parts of the city, county and state.
Although The National Weather Service does not yet have a Twitter account, they are promoting individual Facebook pages for each of their forecast offices, which will include daily briefings and graphicasts during storm coverage.
While anyone with a basic cellular phone that can browse and download from the Web can view websites that can keep viewers abreast of the progress of a storm, smartphone users are at an advantage.
Through preset apps, smartphone users can track storms from formation to landfall, receive up-to-the-minute emergency alerts and advisories and view high-quality satellite images, live video streaming and forecasts.
Although the National Weather Service does not endorse any particular smart phone app, Cordero said the iPhone storm tracker app was "pretty fantastic."
He cited the recent usage of smart phones during the rash of tornadoes that ravaged Alabama in early May.
"When the electricity went out, people were on their smart phones using radar apps, watching broadcasts and keeping track of the storms," said Cordero.
Because the apps connect directly to satellite feeds, they are able to function with or without a cell phone connection.
As was the case in 2010, Crossroads-area residents could receive timely, frequently updated information on high impact weather events via www.victoriaadvocate.com, as Cordero's office was granted administrative rights to the website.
This is expected to continue in 2011.