Many parts of the world have been experiencing a particularly
brutal winter, so it makes sense that a lot of us have cabin fever and are
ready for spring. Unfortunately, that chubby rodent saw his shadow, and winter seems
in no hurry to leave. Here are five great apps to help you stay safe on the
road, monitor weather trends, and fight the winter blues.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery.
1: Winter Survival Kit by NDSU Extension Service
Live in a particularly snowy region? Live in an area that
doesn’t often get snow? Have you already spent hours stuck on the interstate
this winter and dread having it happen again? Set up Winter Survival before you
head out. This app stores emergency contact information, along with important
numbers like your mechanic and insurance company. If you get stranded, click
the big red I’m STRANDED button (Figure A).
The app reminds you to turn the car off every 30 minutes to
allow carbon monoxide to dissipate and features other helpful tips to stay warm
and safe. It can calculate how long your car can keep you warm, and you can
dial 911 from the app if your situation turns critical. I haven’t had to use
the app in a real situation yet, but having my emergency numbers (and insurance
numbers) easily accessible through the app means I’ll keep it installed even
after winter ends.
2: NOAA Weather Free by N Studio
Many local news stations offer free weather apps that push
severe weather alerts to your phone and provide the local forecast. These are
invaluable for keeping up, and the best show your local weather blogs so you
get a clear picture of what’s to come. NOAA Weather Free (Figure B) offers local weather for pretty much any
area and enables you to see weather details for specified other locations. The
radar leaves a bit to be desired, but the hourly view has a great graph that
shows many variables, including temperature and “feels like”
temperature. The Forecast UI is simple and easy to read. This app
doesn’t have fancy graphics, but it has what you need to be prepared for the
3: Sunrise Sunset by Alok Mandavgane
If you exercise outdoors, Sunrise Sunset (Figure C) is a
great way to schedule your runs when you’ll be most visible. If you don’t
exercise outdoors, or at all, this app will at least give you hope that spring
is coming (eventually). Watch as the sunrise time gets a little earlier every
week, and the sunset time gets a little later. It’s a basic app, but it does
have some neat visuals of the planet’s position and solar path.
Available on: Google Play.
4: NOAA Snow Forecast by WeatherSphere
If you’re looking for highly targeted snow predictions for various
locations, NOAA Snow Forecast (Figure D) might be what you need. This app lets you
pinpoint spots to get hourly snowfall projections (as well as general weather
predictions and NOAA warnings).
You can add locations by map address or contact information
and customize the name and icon used to mark the spot on the interactive map.
5: Alchemy Classic HD by NIAsoft
Okay, so you’re keeping an eye on the forecast, but you
might still wind up stranded at an airport or stuck at home. Alchemy Classic HD
(Figure E) is a fun little app that will help you pass the time. Drag items on
top of each other to create new items. As you play, combinations get more
difficult to determine, and more possibilities and categories open up. Game
play is simple, but the quests get pretty hard. This little game will take your
mind off the snow for a while.
Available on: Google Play.
What apps have proven useful as you’ve dealt with tricky travel and harsh
winter conditions? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.