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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Atlantic nice and quiet, east Pacific a little activity to watch

The Atlantic Basin is free and clear of any tropical activity this 4th of July holiday period. There are no areas of concern and none of the global computer models indicate any development over at least the next five days and probably more.

In the east Pacific, there is one area of concentrated convection well off the coast of Mexico. The NHC indicates that some slow development is possible as the system moves generally off to the WNW and farther away from land.

In other news, our iPhone/Android app is getting closer to its release. We are all very excited about it and I’ll be posting a series of blog entries detailing the various features of the app. The first will be posted tomorrow.

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Debby exiting Florida but leaving behind a lot of water

I know that folks in Florida will be glad to see Debby moving on off the coast and out in to the Atlantic. The storm dumped anywhere from 12 to 20+ inches of rain across portions of Florida. Freshwater flooding will be an ongoing concern as rivers fill with the run off and swell to flood stage and beyond. You can check the progress of the flooding situation by utilizing the fantastic resources of the Southeast River Forecast Center. Click here to access their site. It will give you specific river flooding info for your area and provide daily updates to that data.

Debby is certainly a lesson in understanding all of the effects of a tropical cyclone. I hope that people realize that we’re not just worried about the impacts from big, mean hurricanes. Even a moderate tropical storm, even a depression, can dump excessive amounts of rain on an area and cause significant flooding issues.

Once Debby leaves Florida behind, it will move out in to the Atlantic and likely regain some of its strength over the warm waters. However, it will move away from the Southeast and not be a problem any longer.

The remainder of the tropics are mostly quiet although there is a well developed tropical wave moving westward across the open tropical Atlantic. The NHC tagged it last night as “low probability for development”. This area is not usually favorable for development in June so the fact that we are seeing some potential is interesting. I’ll keep an eye on the system as it moves westward. It is likely going to bring some rain and squally weather to portions of the Lesser Antilles in a few days but should remain only a tropical wave and not develop much.

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Debby another lesson in understanding tropical cyclone hazards

Even as Debby continues to dump rain across portions of northern Florida today, there is a lesson to be learned from the event. That lesson is to understand that tropical storms and hurricanes have multiple weapons that can cause problems. It’s not just the big headline making wind and surge machines such as Katrina, Ike or Camille. Even a weak tropical storm, like Debby is now, can create huge disruptions in the lives of those who are in the path.

Let’s take a look back at TS Allison in 2001. It formed in June and moved up out of the western Gulf of Mexico and settled in over Houston, Texas. The result was around $5 billion in damage due to the 40+ inches of rain that fell across the region. Allison is the only tropical storm to have its name retired from the 6 year list of names. Yet, for Allison, there was no mass evacuation like we saw ahead of category 5 Rita in 2005 or category 2 Ike in 2008. People usually do not flee a 60 mph tropical storm. Instead, the millions of people who live in and around Houston were treated to days of torturous rain and flooding. It was an epic nightmare and one that will never be forgotten.

Tropical cyclones produce heavy rain as a means to disperse the heat that builds up in the tropics. It’s that simple. As I mentioned in a previous post, that rain is a function of the storm’s heat engine doing its thing. It’s just unfortunate that us humans happen to live where these rains can pose serious issues for us.

Debby has dumped in excess of 20 inches of rain over parts of the Florida Panhandle. Sink holes are opening up, parts of I-10 are closed due to flooding and life for many people is simply miserable today. Yet, this was no hurricane. It did not have the “scary” 130 mph winds that would get a lot of attention. It did not push a 20 foot storm surge towards the coast. Yet what Debby has done still managed to cause a lot of grief for a lot of people. There’s no avoiding it, you can’t move your house out of the way of the relentless rain. Evacuating is only necessary if flood waters get too high. So what can be done?

My point is that people all along the coast and then a couple of hundred miles inland need to realize that tropical cyclones are more than just wind and surge producers. First and foremost they are rain makers. Too much water in too little time always equals problems. And, as we have seen time and again, too much rain over a long period of time is just as bad. So as we progress through the hurricane season, remember that all tropical cyclones are capable of inflicting damage and causing loss of life. The degree to which the various effects manifest themselves depends on many variables. This is why it is important to not focus on the hype of “a hurricane might be coming” but rather think of it as “there is a dangerous weather event that could possibly¬† change my life forever”. Then, prepare accordingly.

As for the future of Debby? It should cross Florida in the coming days and finally move faster out in to the open waters of the Atlantic. Let’s hope it does as Debby has more than left its mark on Florida.

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Good news and not so good news concerning Debby

I have some good news to share tonight about Debby. I also have some not so good news. First, the good….

TS Debby

TS Debby

The deep convection with Debby is really falling off. This means that the strong showers and thunderstorms that drive the heat engine are not functioning too well. You can easily see the void of deep convection in the graphic. The green circle indicates the area where the center is located. Without deep thunderstorm activity near the center, a tropical cyclone cannot thrive. This is important because it means that the storm is not strengthening and may be on a weakening trend. Now I cannot possibly know for sure, but seeing the collapse of the deep convection that was definitely there last night and for a good deal of today is a good sign. Perhaps the GFS’ idea of a sheared, weaker, pulsing convection type storm is really what will pan out. The ECMWF forecast of a deeper, stronger system seems to be fading quickly.

NE Gulf Heat Content Map

NE Gulf Heat Content Map

The other issue is heat content. Hurricanes get their energy from the latent heat which is stored in vast quantities in the worlds’ oceans. The deeper the warm water (about 80 degrees F) extends, the more heat content (also called upper ocean heat content) is available. Shallower water tends to hold less heat content and the shallow shelf waters off the eastern parts of the Florida panhandle are notorious hurricane killers due to this lack of energy (see the graphic to the right- the deep blue is low ocean heat content region). I think that the slow movement of Debby is helping to churn up this shallower water, exhausting what little heat content there is; further diminishing Debby’s ability to maintain deep convection.

All of this adds up to the prospect of Debby weakening and not having much of a chance of recovering. This would keep the wind and surge issues to a minimum but the rain is another problem. This is the not so good news part.

Tropical cyclones = rain. That is how they release the heat stored in the oceans. Condensation is a warming process and the release of all that rain also releases heat. This is the very nature of what makes a tropical cyclone tick, so to speak. Unfortunately, too much rain will lead to problems and it looks like the potential exists for a lot of rain for portions of the Florida panhandle and the peninsula. There is no way to know how much rain will fall and where. This all depends on the convection that I mentioned earlier. If rain bands develop, they will drop heavy rain. But those bands can fall apart very quickly too. So the timing and areal coverage of the rain is difficult to forecast. This is why it is important to keep up with what Debby is doing several times per day. The storm is dynamic, it changes. You need to use more than a few resources to keep up with what’s going on. Whether it’s the NWS site (weather.gov) or a commercial outfit such as your local TV station or other website (like us), you will want to know what the rainfall situation is even between the major advisories issued by the NHC. One great resource is the HPC site linked here where you can get detailed precipitation forecasts. The bottom line is that you need to be aware of the fairly quick changes that Debby could bring your specific area. There are numerous ways to do that.

I’ll have more updates throughout the day tomorrow. And for our Client Services subscribers, do not forget, we have a LIVE broadcast each weekday at 2pm ET where I go over detailed graphics LIVE. We also have exclusive use of Stormpulse maps, live chat and other great features that allow you to gain even more info that can help you stay informed.

 

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