Eight apps to get you through a winter storm

Updated 10:41 AM EST, Mon February 11, 2013

Story highlights

These 8 mobile apps are helpful for anyone facing a weekend of severe winter weather

There are weather apps to follow the storms in real-time, and survival apps in case the lights go out

Don't use up all your tablet or smartphone power, save some in case of outages

Mobile devices have changed how we handle severe weather. Instead of being isolated in our homes, reading books printed on paper by candle light, we share constant updates and photos in real time on social networks. We keep ourselves entertained with ebooks, games and videos on smartphones and tablets.

With the severe winter weather pounding the East Coast this weekend, we have a few suggestions for helpful apps apps to add to your collection. They’ll let you follow the weather in real-time, file your own first person reports from the ground, handle any emergencies and even stay cozy.

You should also double check that you’re stocked up on the essentials, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and a few fresh games (the canned goods and bottled water of storm apps).

A blizzard can result in a power outage, so if you only have one mobile device it’s wise to keep app usage to a minimum. We’ve collected these other great tips on keeping your devices powered up.


The Dark Sky app is for weather watchers craving instant information. Yes, the weather report said it would snow this evening, but where exactly are those clouds and flakes right now? The $3.99 iPhone and iPad app taps into the free radar data available from the U.S. government to predict rainfall and snow for your exact area by the hour. There’s a slick radar map that can show what the clouds will be up to at a specific time. The app, which started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2011, is great if you want to make a last minute run to the store for string cheese and wine provisions.


WeatherMob mixes the social with the snow. Put on your amateur meteorologist hat and file a weather report on the free iPhone app. Pick an icon to describe what the weather is doing, how you’re feeling, and what the activities the weather is good for. You can add your own text descriptions and attach photos or videos of the weather in action. Once you’ve shared your hyperlocal weather report, check out what people nearby or in different parts of the city are experiencing, maybe start following your favorites. The app also has also a basic weather forecast and Twitter and Facebook integration.

Track the storm with a timeline, map


Like WeatherMob, the mPING Android and iOS apps want you to share information about weather around you. But this is scientific tool, a joint project by the University of Oklahoma and the National Sever Storms Laboratory (NOAA), and it is only interested in precipitation. Use the free apps to pick a type of precipitation, such as snow, sleet, or rain. If it’s hailing, you can include a photo and measurement of the hail. The research project sends the data to NOAA where researchers compare the anonymous citizen-reports to official radar images. The reports are also displayed on the official project website. The project will use the data to improve radar and weather forecasting technology.


When it’s miserable outside, the last thing you want to do it go out to pick up food. If you neglected to stock up on rations ahead of time, or are just really craving Thai, you can use Seamless’ free iOS, Android or BlackBerry apps to order delivery or takeout. Available in 40 cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Boston and D.C., Seamless streamlines ordering out by letting you order and pay for food from various restaurants from one mobile device. No phone calls necessary. There is some bad weather etiquette you should follow if you plan on using Seamless this weekend. The company gave some tips to East Coasters ahead of the blizzard, reminding them to be patient and allow extra time for deliveries and to tip their brave delivery people extra well.

Flashlight apps

If the lights go out, you’ll find these practical little tools very helpful. There are no shortage of flashlight apps in the Android and iOS app stores that use the LED flash on your camera or the screen itself. iPhone users should check out the free Flashlight by Rik app, which lets you control the intensity of the light, turn on a strobe or send out SOS signals. If you are worried about having to communicate entirely by Morse code, the Morse-It iPhone app converts text to the proper flashes. Android users can download the free Tiny Flashlight + LED which is flashlight that also has text to Morse code support.

Survival Guide

Even if the snow doesn’t plunge our cities into darkness and everyone-for-themselves chaos, the free Survival Guide iOS app could come in handy. Based on the “U.S. Military Survival Manual FM 21-76, it’s basically a book in app form. Chapter 15 is dedicated to cold weather survival, including first aid, shelter and finding food. It has tips like not overheating when you’re outside, as the sweat can cool your body and make your clothing less insulated. The guide also covers how to prepare yourself mentally for survival situations, where to find water, fire-building instructions, signaling techniques and traps for catching animals should your Seamless app stop working.

Winter Survival Kit

If you have to travel at all during severe weather, install the practical and helpful Winter Survival Kit app on your phone before you hit the road. It does things you can probably already handle from your phone, such as call 911, tell you where you are and send notifications to family and friends. It has some unique features, like sending your location to emergency services and calculating how long you can afford to run your car engine before you run out of gas or are at risk of carbon monoxide poising. It can also store all your emergency contacts for roadside assistance and insurance policies. It’s available for Android and iOS devices.


Let’s not end this list on a gloomy note. Instead, how about snuggling up next a cracking fire with some hot coco and a loved one. If you don’t have a fireplace in your house or apartment, try this chillier but still soothing alternative, the $.99 FirePlace app for the iPhone and iPad, which simulates a roaring fire on your screen. You can even sync the flames up with your favorite cold weather songs. Lucky Android users can enjoy a realistic fire while using their device with the free FirePlace Live Wallpaper. And anyone with the Netflix app can relax with the hit film, “Fireplace for Your Home.”