People across the Northeast are bracing themselves for what the National Weather Service is calling a "potentially crippling" snowfall. The winter storm is expected to slam the east coast starting Friday and lasting into Sunday, with cities from Washington, D.C. to New York forecasted to see anywhere from a few inches to two feet of snow.
Blizzard conditions can make leaving the house inconvenient, if not downright dangerous. Thankfully, there are a few handy apps out there that can help you get by, whether you're looking to track the storm, report a power outage, or stock up on groceries. Here's a look.
Plenty of weather apps can tell you what the forecast will look like at different parts of the day. Dark Sky, however, can also predict minute-to-minute changes in weather, giving you an idea of whether or not there's time to walk the dog or run to the grocery store before the weather changes. There's also a radar animation that allows you to view the path of a storm.
$3.99 in the App Store
Storm Shield specializes in providing notifications about upcoming severe weather conditions. It provides weather alerts that are pertinent to your exact location, so you don't end up getting notified for weather changes that don't affect you. The app can also alert you of school closings if you live in certain cities, which include Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Buffalo, among others.
This app aggregates data from more than 100,000 local weather stations all over the country to provide precise updates about your area. You can also view weather data from the past to compare it the current conditions nearby. The app crowdsources information about hazardous conditions and local weather, too.
NOAA Snow Forecast
Most weather reports are generalized and provide forecasts for a city or region. This app, however, claims to only show how much it's going to snow in your specific neighborhood or town over the next few days. The snow tracker app also includes a bar graph that shows how many inches of snow to expect in your area over the course of the day.
If your flashlight is tucked away in your closet, chances are you won't be able to find it if a big storm knocks out your power. The iPhone comes with a built-in flashlight function that can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and pressing the flashlight icon.
If you have an Android phone, there are numerous third-party apps that function the same way. Although there have been some security concerns over the types of permissions these apps sometimes request, Slim Gears' Flashlight app doesn't seem to ask for anything that's too out of the ordinary.
Free in the Google Play Store
Utility Company Apps
Preparing for a snow storm also means getting ready in case there's a blackout in your neighborhood. It's a good idea to download your electricity provider's app so that you can report outages quickly and learn about any power issues. Consolidated Edison, Pepco and National Grid all have apps that allow you to check the status of power outages near you.
Instacart or FreshDirect
You don't have to rush out to the supermarket before the storm hits to stock up on groceries. Services like Instacart and FreshDirect can deliver food items straight to your doorstep if you live within their service range. Instacart says it can bring groceries to your home in an hour, while FreshDirect allows you to choose a specific time slot for delivery. It's worth noting, though, that high demand in areas where a storm is about to hit may affect service.
Seamless or GrubHub
When the weather is cold and stormy, there are few things better than ordering takeout and binging Netflix. If you forgot to get your grocery shopping done before the storm, services like Seamless and GrubHub will show you which restaurants are open for delivery or pickup nearby. But the above caveat about service applies here, too. And it's a good idea to tip well in bad weather.
If you are going to brave the snow, it's important to be prepared in case roads are icy and dangerous. Should any accidents occur, you'll want to have a roadside assistant app at your fingertips. If you're not a AAA member, the Honk app offers services like towing and flat tire fixes without a monthly fee. Honk also says it's faster than services like AAA, claiming help can arrive between 15-30 minutes for drivers in urban areas.
Plowz or TaskRabbit
Sometimes the worst part of a snowstorm is the aftermath. Luckily, there are a few apps that allow you easily hire someone to come shovel out your property for you. Plowz lets you order a plow through your smartphone to come clear out your driveway. If Plowz isn't in your area, or if you need other snow-related chores taken care of, you can hire a TaskRabbit. This app, which lets you hire someone to carry out nearly any task, is available in 19 cities across the U.S. After describing the task you need done, TaskRabbit will hook you up with a "tasker" in your area.