Hurricane Irene: Best Sites to Track the Storm

Irene is walloping the Web along with the Atlantic seaboard, but a wealth of resources can be found online.

Hurricane Irene has its sights set on the East Coast, and that has easterners checking websites and mobile apps to stay up to date on its progress. The Weather Channel has already seen increased traffic this week to weather.com and its mobile information sources, with 8.1 million page views to its mobile outlets alone on Tuesday and 9.7 million on Wednesday. Trade publication Broadcasting and Cable reported late yesterday that weather.com was on track to reach between 90 and 100 million page views for Thursday alone.

The Weather Channel's social tools also keep track of certain weather-related tweets on Twitter. This morning, the most weather tweets were coming from cities in the current projected path of Irene, including New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston.

For solid information on the hurricane information, Twitter may not be the best source since the microblogging site is overflowing with the phrase "Irene's wrath" and scary-looking satellite photos of the storm. It may also be good to be wary of any automated calls to your phone telling you to evacuate. Residents in parts of Maryland recently received robocalls telling them to pack up. Authorities say the calls are fake. Here are some more reliable sources of information:

The National Hurricane Center: The National Weather Service's official hurricane site has tons of up-to-date information and data. Maps show where storm surges and hurricane-force winds are most likely to hit, and watches and warnings are updated constantly by NWS down to the zip code. This is also the source that many other sites and apps draw their data from.

Google Crisis Response: Using Google Maps and a lot of the data from the National Hurricane Center, Google has put together a simple, easy-to-use dashboard for tracking the storm. All sorts of layers can be added to the map, including watches and warnings, storm surge potential, and most useful of all: evacuation routes.

Local TV and News Sites: Local media are often the only places in a given city with state-of-the-art radar and other weather-watching equipment. Television stations in cities like Charleston, South Carolina and Washington, D.C., which could be the first hit by the storm, are good sources of first-hand information, as are network sites like CNN.com and Fox News.

Mobile Apps: Apps like the one from the Weather Channel and Hurricane Tracker HD provide on-the-go storm tracking and just about as much information as you can find on the traditional web, so long as cell phone service remains available when the storm draws closer.

NASA's Earth Observatory: If you do want to see those scary satellite photos, and a handful of other incredible shots, this is the place.

Ready.gov and the Red Cross: These are the places to check and make sure you're prepared for what could be a long weekend on the East Coast. Be sure to check the hurricane preparedness checklists and good luck!

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Eric Mack

PC World (US online)

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