HurricaneTrack for iPhone and Android: An Overview

HurricaneTrack.com has been up and running since 1999. During that time frame, we have seen technology advance at an incredible pace. Now, the mobile app market is enormous and growing faster than ever. It is time for us to jump in and offer a mobile app for our audience.

HurricaneTrack Splash Screen

HurricaneTrack Splash Screen

During hurricane season, information is a valuable asset. Knowing what to expect is critical to planning and your general understanding of the impacts that a potential hurricane landfall will have on your life. You don’t have time to sift through site after site, searching for a simple, easy to understand explanation of where the hurricane is, where it is forecast to go and what conditions are expected when it gets there.

When a hurricane is forecast to make landfall along the U.S. coast, you want to know what is going on in the landfall region. You want to be kept up to date on the latest conditions with video reports and live weather data. This is the most important part of hurricane tracking: the landfall. This is when it matters the most to have reliable, accurate and up to date information. Who can you turn to? HurricaneTrack for iOS and Android (iPhone,iPod Touch, iPad and most Android phones and tablets) is your answer.

There are plenty of apps available that track hurricanes using maps, model plots, satellite photos, radar and more. We recommend Hurricane and Hurricane HD by KittyCode, LLC (disclaimer: we provide video content to KittyCode for use in their apps). The tools available in their app are remarkable and easy to use. There is a historic track database and a news feature that allows users to get the very latest tracking info on any tropical cyclone activity world-wide.

HurricaneTrack Homepage

HurricaneTrack Homepage

Now enter HurricaneTrack. What will make it stand out? While the app will feature our blog, a daily video blog, Twitter and Facebook feeds, it will become extremely useful when there is a hurricane or tropical storm threatening to make landfall along the U.S. coastline (and perhaps some international locations as well). The app will be the focal point for our field missions and deliver exclusive content that will help you to answer one very important question: what is going on where the hurricane is hitting?

From the moment we leave the drive way until the day we return, we’ll post video blogs to the app. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we can post a video blog within minutes, keeping our audience up to date every step of the way. If we get new recon data while heading down the Interstate, we can post that. If we run to evacuation traffic or get word of important, breaking news, we can post that and you will have immediate access, right in the app. We’re talking dozens and dozens of video posts. More importantly, we’re talking BEFORE, DURING and AFTER. You feel like you’re part of the field mission as post video blogs detailing what we are doing, what the conditions are, interviews with local officials and much more. The video blogs during our field missions will be an incredible way to keep up with not only our work but also the conditions where the hurricane is expected to make landfall. If it’s important to us, we’ll shoot it and post it to the app!

HurricaneTrack Live Weather Data

HurricaneTrack Live Weather Data

Next up is the field data. Only HurricaneTrack will offer LIVE weather data originating from our specially designed 5-meter wind towers. Users will have access to as many as three complete sets of live weather data PLUS a live web cam image from each tower. What’s more, and this is where the video blogs come in handy, we’ll post video showing where we set up each tower and why those locations are important to monitor.

The weather data is made up of wind speed and gust along with pressure. All of the instrumentation is from RM Young who produce some of the finest meteorological equipment in the world. We’re talking top-notch data here that will update every 60 seconds! Compare this to other weather data apps that may only update once per hour or maybe every 10 minutes. Only HurricaneTrack has wind towers specifically designed and set up to measure the hurricane that you are tracking. We choose where to place the towers to provide the best data possible and it will feed in to the app LIVE!

Last, but certainly not least, we’ll provide you with a live in-vehicle web cam image direct from the HurricaneTrack.com Chevy Tahoe. It will update at least once per minute with a shot right from the top of the Tahoe. You’ll see what we see. Add to that our live GPS tracking right in the app and you’ll know right where we are every moment of our field missions. This is important to know because we might be near your neighborhood or some other location that is important to you. So when we upload a video, you’ll know right where it came from. Also, knowing our location, you may wish to interact with us via Twitter or Facebook. Feel free to do so! We may not be able to respond to every interaction, but if you know where we are and want us to check out a certain area or provide info on something specific that might help you, just ask. If we have time and can do it safely, we’ll give it our best effort.

The bottom line is that our app will become an important part of your hurricane news and information tool kit. Whether it be our daily video blogs to keep you posted as to the latest goings on in the tropics or the live weather data and video blogs from the field, no other hurricane tracking app will give you as much useful information as HurricaneTrack. In short, it will be the essence of what we are all about: information.

How much will it cost? The app will be subscription based and available for $1.99 per month or $9.99 per year, unlimited use NO ADS. We have made it very affordable and feel that it will serve the needs of anyone who lives along the U.S. coast or who has interests in the areas that could be affected by hurricanes.

As for future upgrades and enhancements, we do plan to add our own tracking maps and model plots to future editions. For now, we wanted to roll out something that no one else offered and the live weather data, field mission video blogs and the multiple web cams/GPS tracking of our vehicle will be a great start. Just think, no matter where you are, if your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android powered device can access the Internet, you’ll be connected to the very best of our information and live data. We are very excited about the app and hope you will be too. As soon as we get approval from Apple and Google, we’ll let you know and officially debut HurricaneTrack. It should only be a matter of a few weeks now, hopefully less.

Any questions or comments? Please feel free to post here or email me.

 

 

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Debby going to be a forecast challenge

The latest computer model guidance regarding tropical storm Debby has not helped to paint a clearer picture of where the storm, forecast to be a hurricane, will eventually make landfall. In fact, this could be one of the more complicated storms to deal with in quite some time.

Currently, Debby is experiencing some shear which means the upper level winds are blowing across the top of the storm from a certain direction rather than fanning out in all directions. The shear is keeping the storm from being able to align itself vertically and the deepest convection is displaced well away from the center of circulation. This shear is forecast to relax but as mentioned in the latest NHC discussion, it is not a guarantee, so Debby may have some intensity issues over the next few days. It is important to note that intensity forecasting is where the least amount of skill lies and significant changes up or down are possible. The latest forecast maintains the notion that Debby will become a hurricane as it turns west across the warm Gulf of Mexico.

The track forecast is turning out to be quite difficult. What was once a fairly straight forward forecast that Debby would turn west under a developing ridge of high pressure has turned in to a potential huge change coming up. The NHC mentions the ECMWF model which has shown Debby moving west and even south of west towards Texas for the last several days now has the storm making landfall in Louisiana in about three days. As I mentioned, this is a big change from previous runs and we’ll have to see what happens with each subsequent run. In other words, is this the beginning of a trend of just a temporary “goof” by the model and it will get back on its “west” idea soon. We’ll have to wait and see. Track forecasting is sometimes quite easy, this time, it looks to be just opposite.

HPC 3 Day Precip Forecast

HPC 3 Day Precip Forecast

Let’s talk about rain fall. Taking a look at the HPC’s precip forecast for the next three days, we can plainly see that Debby has a tremendous amount of moisture to dump along its path. The Florida peninsula through the central Gulf Coast could receive several inches of rain as Debby moves quite slowly, allowing the rain fall totals to pile up. This is not to be taken lightly. Fresh water flooding from excessive rains generated by tropical cyclones is a leading killer. Often times flooded roads are accessed by people who think that they can navigate the waters. This is a dangerous idea and I urge people to be mindful of the potential flooding impact from the rain. I would like to point out that you can use weather.gov for a wealth of information regarding your local conditions. Just type in your ZIP Code and the landing page will likely contain all sorts of locally based watch/warning info, hurricane local statements and more. This info is for your area, not a national broad brush forecast. Remember: weather.gov

I am currently in Georgia after wrapping up a project I had with CNN to launch a weather balloon and its payload to high altitude yesterday morning. The prep and launch were spectacular, I cannot wait to show you the video of that. The ascent went very well and we were able to track the payload using APRS. I will post a separate blog about this project later tomorrow, complete with some video of the launch. I’ll also talk about what went wrong and why we were not able to recover a majority of the payload after the balloon burst.

Once I return home from GA later today, I’ll begin preparing equipment for a trip to the Gulf Coast to provide on-scene coverage and info as Debby passes by or perhaps makes a direct impact on the region. I’ll lay out my plans tomorrow as a lot will hinge on what the forecast track is and how strong Debby gets. Meanwhile, everyone along the Gulf Coast should keep close tabs on the latest forecast info from the NHC and your local NWS. I’ll have another post here tonight with frequent updates on Twitter.

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HurricaneTrack App for iPhone and Android coming soon

HurricaneTrack App

HurricaneTrack App

I wanted to post an update on our brand new app for iPhone and Android. Things are moving along nicely and we’re almost ready for submission to the App Store.

The app will be very specific in its features and will focus on being informative, educational and a powerful tool to use during hurricane landfalls. Here is a breakdown of the features:

Blog – it will contain our blog from this page which will be a handy way to keep up with our posts on your iPhone or Android device.

Daily video blog – each week day (when things are slow) I will post a short video blog outlining any potential development areas in the Atlantic or east Pacific. This will be a great way to keep up with the latest in graphical format with an easy to understand explanation. I can utilize this feature to educate our users about different aspects of tropical cyclones, preparedness, impacts of a pending landfall, etc. So when you’re waiting for the plane at DFW or ATL, you can sit back and catch up on the latest in the tropics using our app.

Twitter/Facebook – the app will have live Twitter and Facebook feeds, an important way for us to stay connected in short updates, especially when we’re on the road.

Web cam/GPS tracking from the Chevy Tahoe – this will be a really cool feature where users can track our progress on the road via a live web cam (still image, not live video) which will update at least once per minute. We’ll also have a GPS tracking map for you to know exactly where we are at anytime. This will be great for when we are uploading videos and pics, no guessing or wondering as to where we are.

Live weather data – this is likely to be one of the most popular features of the app and one that we are quite proud of. Users will have access to our live weather data and web cam pics from our three 5-meter wind towers that we will set up in the path of a hurricane. The data will include wind and pressure readings every 60 seconds! Each tower will also have a live camera sending still images to the app every minute as well. For those who really want to know what the wind speeds are, the pressure is and a look at the landscape where it is happening, this will be perfect for you!

Field mission video blogs – once we are out in the field working a landfall, our entire team will be able to post video blogs of anything that we find interesting or informative for you. We will use our iPhones to shoot the video segments and upload them immediately. We’ll do this before, during and especially after a landfall. There is no other app that will offer the amount of videos from the field than ours. You will be able to keep up with conditions in chronological order as we work the mission day by day. I am very excited about this powerful tool that will bring you the very best information right from where it matters the most.

So how much will it cost? We will roll out a subscription based app first followed by a free, ad-supported version. Both will offer the exact same features. Our hope is that our audience will support our work by subscribing to the app which will only be $1.99 per month. As they say, “you can cancel anytime”. But wait, there’s more! The app will be utilized during the off-season as well to provide a weekly weather outlook video as well as other interesting non-hurricane related news and activities. All in all, the app will be an extension of what we offer here and our more robust Client Services site. For those who are members of our subscription site and will also utilize our app, you will have the absolute best that we can possibly offer, covering you at all angles. We are very excited about the release of HurricaneTrack for iPhone and Android. We hope you are too. Any questions at all? Please post in comments or send an email. I’ll keep everyone posted as to when we expect it to be available in the App Store and Google Play.

 

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FREE trial to our subscription service, sign up now!

Want a FREE trial to our subscription service? Now is your chance. Starting Friday, June 1, we will offer a seven (7) day free trial to our Client Services site. All you have to do is send us an email to: freetrial at hurricanetrack.com and tell us that you are interested in the free trial. We’ll send you a username good for seven days- from June 1 through June7.

What do we offer our subscribers? A lot.

We have had the subscription service since 2005 when it was almost exclusively just live video during our field missions.

Since that time, the service has grown and expanded to include a daily video briefing that is broadcast live on our own private ad-free stream. What’s more, our members can chat with us in real time, interact with each other, post questions, links to interesting info/data, etc. And, it’s troll-free. People value what they pay for and no one causes problems, posts spam links or any of that nonsense that you see on public chats.

We also have 30 frame satellite and radar loops, specialized tracking maps and Stormpulse maps (one is even full screen).

In addition, we set up our own 5-meter wind towers which feed back live wind and pressure data along with a web cam image every 60 seconds! This is exceptional updating compared to many other sources which might update every 5 mins to as much as an hour.

Our most popular exclusive feature during a landfall event are our remote cams that we place in the worst possible conditions to stream live video back to our subscribers. We have done this during Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Gustav, Ike, Earl and Irene with excellent results. All of these video streams are also 100% ad-free, supported by our members.

Our memberships range from $59.95 for a season pass (expires November 30, 2012) or $99.95 for an annual membership. Since we offer off-season info, live updates and other non-hurricane news and reporting, we have about 30% of our member base comprised of annual subscriptions and growing.

What we offer is unique. We have the experience of being in over 20 hurricanes so we know what we’re talking about. We use that knowledge base to explain in great detail, while making it easy to comprehend, what to expect and what the impacts will be. Then, we TAKE YOU THERE. How many other pro weather sites do that? Last count, NONE. They are not set up to do that. We are. We take you to the landfall area, set up our equipment and keep our members up to date literally second by second. It’s not “storm chasing” so much as it is a coordinated effort to gather information from the landfall zone and pass it along to interested parties all over the world. Since 2005, it has worked very well.

If you’re looking for entertainment, this is not for you. It’s not a road show but a mission in to the greatest storms on Earth. We have over 350 private clients and they’ll agree- there is nothing else like what we offer and it goes so far beyond just being able to stream live video from our vehicle. Ask for a free trial and you’ll see. If not, we’ll continue to offer the same level of public information and updates that we have since 1999 when it all began.

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Beryl Almost a Hurricane

Preliminary reports from recon reaching the center of Beryl suggest that the pressure is down and flight level winds are up from earlier today. That, and given the significant improvement in the overall satellite presentation during the day, suggests that Beryl is closing in on hurricane status. I would not be at all surprised if Mark and Greg end up measuring a hurricane tonight as the center comes inland, and Jacksonville could see their first hurricane in over 100 years…in May. Residents there should prepare to lose power for a few days. Honestly, there is not much difference between a strong tropical storm and a category one hurricane, but one thing we’ve noticed over the years is that strengthening systems making landfall seem to translate winds and energy to the surface better than weakening storms.

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