Flights, Friends, Fears: A West Coast Guide to Hurricane Sandy
Canceled flights. Endangered loved ones. Even the suspension of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” As the East Coast battens down for one of the biggest storms ever, Californians are already feeling the effects.
Here’s a guide for those of us whose lives may be disrupted without being hit by a drop of rain.
How Big? How Bad?
Hurricane Sandy has already started to whip the Eastern Seaboard. Its winds may top 90 mph as it makes landfall early Monday evening in southern New Jersey, forecasters say, centered about 110 miles southeast of Atlantic City, N.J.
As if that’s were not enough, Sandy is headed toward another storm moving in from the west and cold air from the Arctic. The combined storm could hit as many as 50 million people in the most densely populated centers of the nation, from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.
U.S. government offices in Washington D.C. are shutting down on Tuesday, and the stock and bond markets, which closed at noon EDT on Monday, will stay dark through Tuesday as well.
Here’s a map from NPR:
By 9 a.m. Monday morning, the storm had caused the cancellation of nearly 9,000 flights, according to FlightAware, a flight tracing website. These included hundreds of flights from San Francisco International Airport to East Coast cities, and some from Oakland International Airport as well.
The San Jose Mercury News offers a listing of canceled flights in the Bay Area.
Government agencies have asked residents to evacuate several areas along the waterfront in the path of the hurricane. WNYC has posted a map of these areas in New York City.
Getting Updates Several news organizations and government agencies will send out alerts through Twitter. CNN offers a list. And The New York Times is combining some of the tweets with other sources for a live, state-by-state blog.
Reaching Loved Ones
As the storm hits, how do you if your friends and family are safe? The Red Cross offers a Hurricane App that will give them key information, such as where to find shelter, and allow them to instantly broadcast an “I’m safe” message through social media.
Also the Red Cross has a Safe and Well website where people in the path of the storm can register and leave messages. Loved ones can search the site to find the messages.
Cell phone service providers say they are braced for the worst, but in case you can’t get through on these networks, or on landlines, you can try calling through the internet , Techno Buffalo suggests
This tip is great if your power is still up and your wireless carrier is slammed to the point where you can’t place a phone call. T-Mobile offers Wi-Fi calling on a large number of its phones, which means it uses your home Internet (or whatever Wi-Fi network your on) to place the call. If you’re on another carrier, consider using Skype or another VoIP service to place calls over Wi-Fi.
And the Associated Press offers these tips, directed at people within the storm zone:
Even if cellphones work, wireless networks may be overloaded by people calling to check in on each other or surfing the Web. That’s why cellphone companies recommend text messaging rather than calling in any disaster, because text messages use much less network capacity. They also don’t use much battery power. Using Facebook and Twitter can be tempting, but try to keep usage brief and use the phone’s apps rather than web browsers if possible, to minimize network use and battery drain.
Many companies doing business on the East Coast are feeling effects that include the cancellation of high-tech events, according to Silicon Valley Beat.
The list of affected events includes a Facebook promotion for its new “Facebook Gifts” program that was scheduled for the FAO Schwarz toy store in Manhattan, a big mobile tech confab organized by the folks who run the All Things D blog, and a Google event where the company was expected to show off some of its latest Android products — including new tablets, phones and a rumored software update.
How to Help
The Red Cross is asking for additional blood donations. “A lot of blood donation sites on the East Coast have been shut down,” said Emily White of the organization’s San Francisco office. You can register to give blood online. The organization is also taking donations in anticipation of the havoc it expects Sandy to cause.