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NOAA-based tornado app could be a life-saver

The best defense against severe weather is early warning, giving people time take shelter and prepare. And as people increasingly rely on mobile devices for communications, especially in weather emergencies when power goes out, a mobile app can be a critical communication tool.

The Red Cross's Tornado App is the latest tool to keep people apprised of severe weather warnings. It even has an attention-getting audible siren that goes off when a tornado warning is issued to reduce the chance of sleeping through an actual warning.

Based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the app provides warnings, updates and instructions on how to prepare an emergency kit and what to do even when cellular towers and TVs are down. It can help users contact friends and family (and includes an “I’m Safe” notification), and will also notify users when a warning has passed. It even has a gaming aspect, letting people earn badges for learning how to prepare for a tornado.

In 2012, tornadoes in the United States claimed 70 lives and did an estimated $1.6 billion in damage, according to the National Weather Service.  And as tornado seasons go, 2012 was a relatively quiet year, according to NOAA.

The free app is available from iTunes  or Google Play. Users can also call "**REDCROSS" (**73327677) for a link to the app.

Posted by Greg Crowe on Mar 28, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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