Magazine article USA TODAY

Staying Ahead of the Storm

Magazine article USA TODAY

Staying Ahead of the Storm

Article excerpt

A hurricane is approaching, but the power is out. No television. No internet. No local radio. You're in your vehicle frantically trying to get away from the coast. How close is the hurricane? Where is the worst of the storm surge going to hit?

You're asleep at 2:27 a.m. when a massive tornado rips through your neighborhood. You wake up to the sounds of destruction and shattering glass. Why didn't you know a tornado was on the way?

"We are in a new and potentially deadly era for storms, one that demands new technology, new tools," maintains meteorologist Paul Douglas, who broadcasts nightly weather reports for WCCO-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

Douglas founded Digital Cyclone Inc. in 1998, which specializes in new ways to reach people with critical weather warnings. The service, called "My-Cast," sends e-mail warnings to subscribers within seconds of being issued by the National Weather Service.

The latest release of My-Cast, version 5.0, sets a new standard for technological innovation. If lightning strikes within 25 miles of the user, a subscriber's phone beeps or vibrates; he or she knows exactly how far away the strike was. Users then can call up a map of nearby lightning strikes on their phone to see if they are in the path of a tornado or severe thunderstorm. Douglas notes that the service is priced at around $4 per month for unlimited use.

My-Cast 5 offers a host of features for on-demand weather information including conditions at your immediate location, or the ability to store and check on any number of other sites in the continental U. …

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