Weather the storms with smartphone apps

  • Article by: KATIE HUMPHREY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 19, 2014 - 3:45 PM

The umbrellas began to sprout as a steady rain began to fall on the farmers market in downtown Excelsior on Water St.

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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The snow is gone, but now Minnesotans are on alert for other kinds of nasty weather. Already, it’s been everything from torrential rain and hail to high winds and reports of tornadoes.

Ah, springtime.

While an umbrella might by the most useful accessory, a smartphone is also helpful to keep up on whatever Mother Nature decides to throw our way.

The Weather Channel app might be the most obvious choice. But the free Yahoo Weather app (available for Android and iOS) has scored stellar reviews for being straightforward and attractive.

In the emergency preparedness category, the American Red Cross this spring launched a Flood App (Android and iOS). It has one-touch “I’m safe” messaging to alert family and friends, plus information about what to do during a flood.

The Flood App joins an already robust stable of emergency preparedness apps from the Red Cross that provide tips for coping with natural disasters: tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and more. The Red Cross says its apps have been downloaded on nearly 4 million mobile devices.

For those who want to help boost the accuracy of forecasts, the National Weather Service offers the mPING app. It collects crowdsourced weather conditions on the ground, giving meteorologists a glimpse below the radar.

Finally, there’s always Weather Puppy, which gives you the forecast along with a picture of a puppy appropriate for the daily conditions. A dreary forecast is easier to take with a dose of cuteness. □

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