The Northeast is hunkering down for what could be a major storm, with the area around the nation's capital in particular bracing for a blizzard that could bring more than 30 inches of snowing in the coming days.
After you've stocked up on food, water and candles, check out these eight apps that will keep you armed with the information and communication tools you need to weather the storm.
Designed for true weather junkies, this app uses the latest data from NOAA satellites to display animated weather radar images in real time. Users can bookmark specific locations to see the latest warnings in the area, or take a broad view and track everything about a storm from projected snowfall to its forecasted path.
During a big storm, misinformation can spread quickly via social media. Head directly to the source with Scanner Radio, which lets users listen to as many as 5,300 channels including weather radio stations and police and fire scanners. The app keeps a running list of the 50 scanners with the most listeners, which is updated every five minutes. Users can also opt to receive notifications when scanners have hit a certain number of listeners.
A minor injury or illness can pose a big problem if an ambulance can't make it through the streets. The American Red Cross' app provides step-by-step instructions for emergency situations like broken bones, burns and asthma attacks, along with videos and animations.
If you're thinking about leaving your home during severe weather conditions, think seriously about the risks. If it truly is necessary that you leave, the free Winter Survival Kit app can provide potentially life-saving information and communication tools if you get stuck outside. The app can use GPS to determine your exact location, call 911 and notify friends and family about your condition. If you're in a car, the app can also calculate how long you should run your engine to keep warm, and sends you reminders every 30 minutes to check the exhaust pipe and avoid carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Bugle (free for iOS, not available for Android)
If you absolutely must leave shelter during a storm, it's important that others know when and where you're going. Bugle is a free app that lets you enter your activity details, choose emergency contacts and pick a check-in time. If you return safely and check in when the app prompts you to do so, nothing happens. But if you fail to check in, emergency contacts automatically receive e-mail and text messages warning them that you need help.
While not all cities and towns offer these apps, several metro areas now let snowed-in citizens track the locations of snowplows in the area. Washington, D.C.'s animated tracker shows the locations of both plows and rock salt spreaders, and it also lets Capitol-dwellers watch live traffic cameras to scope out the situation for themselves.
VisionLink OEM Shelter (free for iOS, not available for Android)
This app lets users know about open shelter locations after severe weather or other disasters. It pulls in data from the American Red Cross' National Shelter System (NSS), which maintains information about more than 60,000 potential facilities and is used to track shelter information during disasters. OEM Shelter is available only for Apple devices, but all phone users can text the word "shelter" and their ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA)to get information about the closest shelter.