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Storm tracker: Sites for following hurricanes

Which Web sites are best for tracking and preparing for Irene?

One of the many projections found at the National Hurricane Center Web site
Matt Elliott

People up and down the East Coast are bracing for Hurricane Irene's arrival this weekend. When will she make landfall, and what damage might she bring to your area? Tracking a hurricane isn't an exact science, but thankfully there are a number of sites that can keep you informed.

The Queen Mother of hurricane-tracking sites is the National Hurricane Center. It serves up information straight from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including current advisories, satellite photos, and a number of maps that show projections for wind speed and storm surge.

Weather.com is an obvious stop for storm trackers. It has boatloads of maps and videos from Weather Channel meteorologists and storm chasers who show you what the storm has done to the Bahamas and what the potential impact might be in a large population center such as New York City. More maps and projections can be found at Weather Underground, which also includes the updated and informative Jeff Masters' WunderBlog. And rounding out the weather sites is MyWeather.com; its Hurricane Tracker page features a Bing map with Irene's projected path.

Helpful: Google Crisis Response has a layer that shows evacuation routes. Matt Elliott/CNET

Google Crisis Response gives you the beauty and simplicity of Google Maps with information pulled in from the NOAA. You can add layers to show cloud imagery, storm surge probabilities, and which coastal areas are under warnings or watches. Best of all, there is a layer that outlines in red the evacuation routes, as collected by FEMA.

Similarly, Stormpulse has maps and various layers, including one that shows you different forecast models of Irene's path. Just type the word Irene in the search bar at the top of the Stormpulse home page to get all of the Irene imagery and information.

Which way will she go? Stormpulse shows different forecast models of Irene's path. Matt Elliott

Another useful map shows evacuation zones and evacuation centers for New York City. Mayor Bloomberg today ordered mandatory evacuations for more than 250,000 New Yorkers in coastal and low-lying areas. To see if you are in an evacuation zone, click here for an interactive map from WNYC public radio.

Mayor Bloomberg ordered mandatory evacuations for the first time in New York City's history. Matt Elliott/CNET

On FEMA's site, you'll find the latest Irene updates, along with links to help you prepare for the hurricane and a list of resources for state emergency management Web sites and social media accounts along the East Coast. And the Red Cross Twitter feed has many useful links and tips for preparing for the storm.

Lastly, should you be out gathering emergency supplies, there are hurricane-tracking mobile apps for both iOS and Android platforms. Be sure to read Nicole Cozma's post on storm-tracking apps for Android and Jason Parker's post on storm-tracking apps for iOS.