New Google Maps Features Will Help You Evacuate During Natural Disasters

Emily Ferron
Updated Feb 11, 2021
1 min read
If you live in an area with frequent natural disasters and you’re not using Google Maps, you might want to download it just in case you need its real-time hurricane or earthquake tracking capabilities.

What’s New: Hurricane Forecast Cones & Earthquake Shakemaps

Over the next few weeks, Google Maps users will receive automatic app updates that will allow them to see detailed visual representations of hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. This information will be included in “crisis cards” that appear in Google Maps leading up to, during and in the aftermath of a weather emergency.

When you tap the crisis card during a hurricane, you’ll see a hurricane forecast cone predicting the storm’s projectory. In the event of an earthquake, you’ll see shake maps indicating the epicenter, magnitude and intensity of the shaking in outlying areas. Use this real-time information to see which areas a disaster is likely to affect and what time it will hit.

If you’re actively mapping a route, Google Maps will issue prominent alerts to steer you away from areas that are likely to be affected. This should help users make the best evacuation decisions when time is of the essence, as long as cellular networks are still operational.

Earthquake and hurricane alerts will be rolled out worldwide to all devices in the coming weeks (Android, iOS, desktop and mobile web browsers). Alerts on active routes are expected to become widely available later this summer. Additionally, users in India will also receive similar features to track floods. Since 20% of global flood deaths occur in India, this effort may improve the efficacy of life-or-death decisions.

FYI: Google Has SOS Alerts, Too

The improvements above capitalize on another Google Maps feature, SOS alerts, that you may not have seen if you’ve never used it during an emergency. If you use Search or Maps to search an incident or location during a time of crisis, you’ll likely see an SOS alert in red at the top of your search results. Tap on the alert to see maps, news stories, and possibly (depending on availability) relevant local information like emergency hotlines, websites and translations of useful phrases. In some cases, users who are in close proximity to the crisis may receive the SOS alert as a device notification.

Looking for more resources on emergency preparedness? We have guides to help:

Source: Google 1 | 2

Written by your home security expert

Emily Ferron

Emily is an experienced writer passionate about covering topics at the intersection of tech, health, safety and humanity.

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