While tornado prediction has improved, twisters can still spin up without warning, giving those in the path little time to prepare or take cover. That’s why, in addition to knowing the signs of a tornado and being prepared, taking advantage of technology like community alert systems and tornado alert apps can help speed notification time for anyone in a twister’s path and save lives.
Here are some of the best tornado alert apps available today, as well as how to enable warnings on any phone or opt-in to localized email alerts.
Ensure Built-In Emergency and Tornado Alerts are Turned On
One of the best alerting systems available comes built-in on most cell phones: the Wireless Emergency Alerts system. A public safety system, WEA allows those with compatible mobile devices to receive geographically targeted, text-like messages about emergencies and threats in their area, whether that’s dangerous weather or a missing child. Because these alerts are broadcast to the geographic area affected by an emergency, everyone in the danger zone receives the alert, whether they are local or traveling through.
While WEAs are turned on by default, some users have turned them off. Here’s how to ensure you’re receiving tornado warnings.
Enable WEAs on iPhone
1: Go to Settings > Notifications
2: Scroll to the bottom of the screen.
3: Under Government Alerts, turn the type of alert on
Enable WEAs on Android
1: Go to Settings > More > Wireless & Networks or Settings > Safety & Emergency
2: Toggle on alerts for extreme threats to life and property, AMBER alerts, etc.
Opt-In to Local Emergency Alerts and Warnings by Text or Email
Many communities have opt-in public alert and warning systems which allow you to receive alerts by text or email, eliminating the need to be tuned in to a television or radio when something happens. To find out what alerts are available in your area, do an internet search with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts,” or search for your local emergency management office.
Download a Tornado Alert App
Here are some of the best free tornado emergency alert apps.
The FEMA App
The FEMA App allows you to receive real-time weather and emergency alerts, send notifications to loved ones, locate emergency shelters in your area if you need to evacuate, and get preparedness strategies. Available on iOS or Android.
MyRadar Weather Radar
MyRadar Weather Radar provides real-time weather alerts, including tornado warnings. The app is available for iOS and Android devices and has a customizable radar that allows you to track the storm in real time.
Clime: NOAA Weather Radar Live
This app provides real-time radar data and alerts for tornadoes and other severe weather and includes a built-in feature that sends alerts for nearby severe weather events. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
The OnSolve CodeRed App
Download the CodeRED Mobile Alert and then subscribe, and you’ll receive free mobile push notifications about a tornado in your area wherever you are—at home, on the road, or traveling. OnSolve is available on both iOS and Android.
Red Cross Tornado App
The American Red Cross Tornado App provides alerts for tornadoes, as well as tips for staying safe during a tornado. The app also includes an “I’m Safe” feature that allows you to notify loved ones that you are okay after a storm. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.