Tech and related weather apps did a pretty incredible thing this week. Moments before a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit in the heart of Silicon Valley, Android users in the Bay Area received an alert from Google on the soon-to-be-felt event.
Alphabet’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, shared the alert he received on his phone over Twitter.
The earthquake, the largest to hit the region in 8 years, a reminder of the critical role technology now plays in informing citizens of an increasing number of climate crises. As the USGS shares, even it (nor Google or any tech titan) can yet predict earthquakes or many other weather occurrences. The focus for tech now is on sharing accurate information as quickly for all climate crises, whether hurricanes, earthquakes or flooding. Having the latest technology and the right apps can play an important role in keeping you safe.
In this vein, I explored some top picks for weather and crisis apps to help keep your family safe, no matter your coast or climate.
1. Earthquake Alerts
This app was developed at UC Berkeley and is sponsored by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. MyShake gives you earthquake information at your fingertips, allows you to see damage reports shared by citizens and helps build a global seismic network. MyShake is currently operating in California, Oregon, and Washington only.
Get it here: Available for free for both Android and iOS
ShakeAlert / Google
The USGS issues ShakeAlert® Messages to 3rd parties that send you alerts directly. This is the service Google offers to its Android phone users (and is what Sundar Pichai shared via Twitter).
This feature is integrated into the Android Operating System for cell phone users in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. ShakeAlert is not earthquake prediction, rather an indication that an earthquake has begun and shaking is imminent. The system uses signals from more than 700 seismometers installed across the state by USGS, Cal OES, University of California Berkeley and the California Institute of Technology.
Google has integrated this information real-time into its search engine results to share a fast, accurate view of the impacted area on Google Search. When you look up “earthquake” or “earthquake near me,” you’ll find relevant results for your area, along with helpful resources on what to do after an earthquake.
2. Snow Storm Trackers
Voted an “Editor’s Pick” by Apple, CARROT’s interface gives you quick access to your current, hourly, and daily forecasts. It allows you to switch between sources like AccuWeather, Dark Sky, and ClimaCell to get a better handle on your forecast. It can give you a heads up on incoming precipitation and severe weather alerts, or receive a daily summary of the weather for the upcoming day. One reviewer writes in the Apple App Store:
Get Carrot: here for iOS and Android
A cult favorite, Weather Underground sets itself apart from the big-named competitors by combining data from over 250,000+ personal weather stations and a proprietary forecast model to give you the most accurate and hyperlocal forecasts, at a microclimate level. Like Waze, WU uses crowd-sourced information to give hyper-local, real-time information.
Download it here for free on Android and iOS
3. Hurricanes and Tornadoes
My Hurricane Tracker Pro
My Hurricane Tracker gives you the comprehensive tools for tracking tornados, cyclones, tropical storms and weather warnings. With its simply-designed interface, you won’t be overwhelmed with cluttered screens. It allows for interactive tracking maps for each hurricane and access to NOAA data, when available. One Apple reviewer writes:
Available here for iOS and Android
Storm Radar: Weather Tracker
This powerful, high-definition NOAA radar and tornado tracker is designed to help you stay safe, stay up-to-date and weather the storm. Owned by The Weather Channel, this app allows you to get a detailed, color-coded view of of changing weather patterns including precipitation. The app can also notify you in real time of any rain and lighting updates coming to your area within 6 hours.
Got a favorite I haven’t mentioned here? Share it with me!