How your iPhone can help you through hurricane season

By mid-September, hurricane season is in full swing. With Hurricane Dorian, predicted to be a Category 4 when it hits the East Coast this weekend, there's no better time than now to bone up on some of the best ways to keep current on what's out there and how to stay safe if a storm comes your way.

And just like with everything else, your iPhone now play an integral part with that.

I've lived on the Gulf Coast my entire life. I've been through storms and God willing, I'll never go through another. Either way, I'll be ready. Let's take a look at a few ways you can be, too.

Websites and apps

If you only use one website for tracking tropical activity, it needs to be the National Hurricane Center's (NHC) site, found at (they've got a mobile version, too, if you're into that sort of thing).

I also recommend Weather Underground's site, too, and the Weather Underground's blog.

What about apps, though? I've used a few over the years. Mostly they're wrappers for the NHC website, and for the most part, the apps themselves are pretty crap. They can, however, be good for notifications on updates, which the NHC puts out every six hours. If you don't want to spend a few bucks, you could just hit up the NHC site, follow their Twitter feed, use RSS. The NHC has a lot of ways to stay informed.

One of the more complex weather-tracking apps for iPhone is RadarScope, which costs $10.

And if you just don't want to bother committing all of these tips to memory, go for the America Red Cross' hurricane app.

If you want more than hurricane tracking, as important as that is, check out iMore's best weather apps as well.

More: The best weather apps for iPhone

Your iPhone

Take lots of pictures

There's almost nothing worse than knowing a hurricane is headed your way. They're big, they're often slow, and have the potential to cause a lot of damage. Luckily, you usually have days or even weeks of warning. That gives you plenty of time to prepare and your iPhone makes it easier than ever.

A few tips I've picked up the hard way:

  1. Inventory your home and car. Use notes apps that sync to the cloud (that's the really important part) to keep track of everything you own, for insurance purposes. If it's not documented, it might as well have never existed.
  2. Take pictures. Lots of pictures. The outside of your home. The inside of your home. Pets. Kids. Anything of value. Insurance fraud, unfortunately, is a thing. You'll want to prove your car didn't already have that tree on it. Again, make sure your pictures are uploaded to a cloud service like iCloud Photo Library, Google Photos, or Dropbox.
  3. Charge early and often. When the power goes out, it goes out.
  4. That said, data could well be down after a strong storm. (Though operators will be quick to tell you they've been hardening against storms.) If that's the case enjoy the silence, and don't waste battery if you don't have to.

Speaking of charging ...

Batteries are our lifeblood — I mean, our phones' lifeblood. If you want any hope of communicating after a storm or keeping up with folks during one, you'll need to stay charged. The good news is that even if you don't (or can't) use a full-blown generator, we've got options.

Check out our list of the best battery packs for your iPhone

Other random things worth buying

Batteries are obvious, along with battery or gas-powered lamps, and food that doesn't spoil.

I also recommend picking up a sun shower of some sort. These are large PVC bags that use the sun to heat the water within and then rely on gravity to rain it down upon your body. I used them on boats growing up, but they're perfect for post-storm showers. You don't need electricity to heat the water, they're portable, and they're easy to store.

This one looks just fine — but you've basically got your pick on Amazon. If you're buying locally, any sporting goods store or boat store should have them in stock.

I'd also recommend picking up a battery-powered AM/FM Weather radio. Again, you need to conserve things like your phone for when you really need them. These ancient little radios run on batteries and will keep you up with important local info as well with NOAA weather radio. They're indispensable once the power goes out. (It's what us old people had before Twitter, and with less trolling.

Your hurricane tips?

If you've been through more than your fair share of hurricane seasons, and have great tips of your own to share, let me know all about them in the comments below!

Updated August 2019: Added information about Hurricane Dorian.

Phil Nickinson

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days.