Already, hurricane related queries are populating Google's Hot Searches, including "storm tracker," "hurricane names," "hurricane tracker," "generators," "suffolk county," and "fema."
Experian Hitwise Tweeted that visits to weather sites such as The Weather Channel were up 120 percent on Aug. 24 compared to the same day the previous week, and was the 18th most trafficed day in the past three years. Aug. 23 was the 29th most trafficked day (the top ranked day for U.S. visits to weather site was during the 2011 Groundhog Day blizzard).
On Yahoo! searches for "latest on hurricane irene" are up 433%, while "hurricane preparedness checklist" is up 128 percent - women age 45-54 were the top demographic on "hurricane preparedness" searches.
When you Bing, the search engine return information on Irene without using the name Irene, and provide links to similar resources (NOAA is the top result for both search engines, while links to Wikipedia's tropical cyclone and Hurricane Katrina pages and the FEMA site appear on both search engines).
Bing does have one differentiator: a visual search link, which allows searchers to compare fatalities, damage, and wind intensity from previous hurricanes.
"Hurricane irene," "hurricane irene path" and "hurricane irene path 2011" are Google's top three suggested searches when you begin typing the word hurricane into Google's search box.
The third link brings you to Google's Crisis Response page. Here, you'll find a map that gives you numerous options using data from the Navy Research Lab, NOAA-NHC, FEMA, and USGS.
Google Hurricane Tracker
Federal Government Resources
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are providing Irene information not only on their web sites, but also on mobile versions of their sites, for those headed to evacuation centers or in frantic search of D batteries -- and they might come in handy if the power goes out (at least as long as cell phones remain charged).
Besides the mobile site, the NHC also provides a variety of alert services, including via Twitter. Meanwhile, NASA is providing images ad video from the international space station, which helps viewers to get a sense of the sheer size of the storm.
Other Local Resources
You may not be in Irene's path, but with some of the resources available online you can get very close to what's happening on the ground.
- With RadioResource.com, you can listen directly to first responders (police, ambulances, fire crews, etc.) in the affected areas.
- On Trafficland.com, you can check out live feeds from traffic cameras in the areas.
- Local news radio stations, like stations WTOP in DC, KYW in Philadelphia, WINS in New York and WBZ in Boston will also provide the local, more in-depth perspective that you're not likely to get from national sources. Other local stations can be found at TuneIn.com.
- Public radio station WNYC in New York City is providing an evacuation zone finder (using Google Maps) where you input your address and it lets you know your residence's status.
- State offices of emergency management are also available on Twitter: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Rhode Island, (It looks like Pennsylvania is only on Facebook.)
Tracking Hurricane Irene on Android, iOS
For those looking to follow the storm on an Android or iOS device, there are several options. The most popular apps seem to be Hurricane HD for iPhone and Hurricane Hound for Android, though The Weather Channel and iMap Weather Radio are other options.
One other way to track tropical storms is through Google Earth with the Places layer turned on, which will give you details on a storm's intensity, latest news, advisory information, historical data, and projected paths.
WNYC has posted a map of evacuation zones and threat level estimates for residents of New York City:
Also here is map of Red Cross Shelters.