The polar vortex has blasted Chicago. The blizzards have bamboozled Atlanta. Sunshine and highs in the 60s have nearly torn San Diego apart...wait...
Winter is terrorizing most of the country, but luckily we live in the 21st century, and there's an app for that. These 11 tech tricks will help you survive February from morning to night.
IN THE MORNING
First things first: weather check. Freezing's a given, but will you need your ankle-length puffer or will a wool peacoat suffice? What kind of snow are we talking about—gentle flakes, wintry mix, 95 mph gusts? The current temp says 12°F, but does it really feel like -20°? The Swackett weather app has a lot of clever features like clothing and outdoor activity recommendations (maybe you want to wait an hour before walking the dog), and health ratings (it's a good day for arthritis pain; bad for sinus headaches). The app also has the regular hourly forecast, radar maps, and a cool interface.
Swackett Weather App, free for iOS and Android
LEAVING THE HOUSE
So when it's cold enough for frostbite, do you take your gloves off to use your iPhone, or do you not use it at all? Arg, First World problems! But there's a solution—just get your hands on some touchscreen gloves. These winterwear staples have been around for a few years at this point, but now there are some seriously stylish and smart ones on the market, with fabrics that are specially treated or woven to be able to work your mobile device. J.Crew offers a cashmere-lined leather pair, while Proporta's have a traditional woolen Fair Isle vibe.
So now you've got your hands covered and can use your touchscreen in the cold. But what if you want to listen to music and/or a call comes in? Subjecting your ears to the stinging wind and snow is less than ideal, plus ear bud cords get all tangled in your scarf. Luckily, it's the Age of Wireless, so this is no longer a problem. Get a pair of Bluetooth-enabled ear warmers, and you can listen to tunes and take calls and still have toasty ears.
Avoid numb toes in the snow and slush by sliding some heated insoles into your boots. This rechargeable pair from ThermaCELL has a wireless remote, so you can toggle the insoles on and off as necessary so you don't waste the battery.
ThermaCELL Heated Insoles, $134.99
GETTING TO WORK
What's the worst part about driving to work? Terrible road conditions? Snow piles cutting every street down to one lane? Giving up your prime street parking? Yeah, it's bad all around. But having to go sit in a frigid car and wait for it to heat up is a terrible way to start a morning. A remote starter is a no-brainer (and it makes you feel just a teeny bit like James Bond, which is always a plus).
Standing and waiting on a train platform in sub-zero temperatures is a special kind of winter purgatory, one many of us endure daily. The cold can be unbearable, and if you pull out your iPad for a distracting game of Tunnel Town, the freezing temps will probably kill the battery. Nab this rechargable handwarmer, which staves off the chill and has two USB ports to charge your mobile device. With a built-in flashlight to boot, this gadget is a triple threat.
AT THE OFFICE
When you need a break from the daily grind—or some procrastination fodder—over the next couple weeks, tune into the hours and hours of Olympics coverage. Unlike in years past, NBC is live-streaming EVERY event, so you don't have to miss a minute of Sochi. Viewers with cable subscriptions can watch the live streams on NBC's designated website and mobile apps.
NBC Sports Live Extra, free for cable customers
If your office is chilly (or you're feeling sympathy cold from watching the Olympics), a heated mouse keeps your fingers warm and nimble. This version is ergonomically designed, with a USB connection and switch that lets you adjust the heat and toggle it on and off. Incidentally, this gadget is also good for arthritis.
Heated Mouse, $23.95
IN THE EVENING
By the time you leave work it's dark and the temperature has only headed south since its noon high of 3°. The last thing you want to do is forage for food. Get the Seamless app to look up restaurants that deliver to you, browse menus, and order directly from your phone. Time it right and you could have pad thai and dumplings waiting for you when you get home.
Seamless App, free for iOS and Android
ON THE WEEKEND
If you're planning a driving trip through potentially risky conditions, download the Winter Survival Kit (and make sure you have a spare charger for your mobile device). This handy app has a host of safety features in case you get stranded: It can tell you your current location, call 911, notify friends and family, and even calculate how long you can run your engine without risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. It also lets you store emergency contact info and policy numbers for insurance or roadside assistance.
And last, but certainly not least, why shovel or snowblow those 8-20" that fall from the sky? Manual snow removal is so 20th century. Ladies and gentlemen, make way for...the ROBOPLOW.
Stay warm out there, people. We still have six weeks left of this ridiculosity.
What are your favorite gadgets, gizmos, or otherwise techie things that help you get through winter? I'd love to hear them in the comments.