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If you live in the south or the Great Plains, you know the feeling of going to bed without knowing if your house will be there in the morning. Tornado is the latest in the American Red Cross's series of disaster relief apps, and since tornadoes are by their very nature sudden and unpredictable, it's a welcome addition to the Play Store. The app ties into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's alert system, and emits an alarm when your area (or any area you designate) receives a tornado warning. There's also an all-clear signal when the danger has passed.

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Like the previous disaster relief apps, there's also a handy "I'm Safe" button that will send a pre-recorded message to your friends and family, plus a constantly-updated list of local shelters. A strobe light and siren could be handy in the unlikely event that you're incapacitated and can't call for help, but can operate your phone. There's also a few educational sections - pretty much the same things you learned in elementary school, but handy if you're trying to remember which room in the house is best for taking shelter.

As someone who had to run from the wildfires in the western states last year, I've got a lot of respect for what the Red Cross does. Remember that while the southern and midwestern US tend to get the most frequent tornadoes, and during the spring and summer at that, they can happen anywhere and at any time.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • itsgonnalast

    When I read the headline I thought it said "With Live NCAA Alerts."

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      Well, that affects everybody, while tornados only affect... yeah, I'll just stop there.


  • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

    Separate apps for tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and first aid? Are they kidding?

    • nzeroesc

      Not at all. I could care less about Earthquakes, wildfires and hurricane preparedness living in the upper midwest. They aren't a risk factor around here, so I don't need an app monitoring for them.

      • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

        Gee, if only apps could be location-aware and give you personalized information suitable for your location...

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      There is something credible to that. Besides nzeroesc's point about some of those being irrelevant to some people, it's also a question of UI effectiveness. If you're running for your life, the last thing you want to do is try to poke the 'Tornado' button before getting to anything useful.

  • Jay T

    This is almost definitely not relevant:

    • Mike Reid

      What ? Natural disasters takes out cell towers ? Who knew. :)

  • nawa

    The most awesome thing is that this app is packed with a full dose of HOLO that cures cancer and all that stuff.

  • rap

    I downloaded this mostly for the alarm features. It has some other good things too. I was never one to take tornado warnings lightly but having seen the devastation in Joplin, I have a new respect and caution.