Tornado Alley sits smack dab in the middle of America. There are seven states that live in the path of some strong and violent tornadoes. NationalAtlas.gov reports those states to be (from south to north): Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. Though it is hard to predict the occurrence of tornadoes, there is a tractable annual cycle that has a higher probability of hitting the Central Plains in the spring. However the National Severe Storm Laboratory (NSSL) says that they are unpredictable and remain a mystery.
Tornado chasers have been using mobile apps for years to track the movement of harsh weather throughout the entire Alley and beyond. USA Today reports that most storm apps are based on information from the National Weather Service, who wants the the warnings that are alerted to the apps in every possible human hand. At your fingertips there are ways to track a tornado’s path anywhere — from your home in Des Moines to your son’s Tulsa apartments — you can make your way to safety sooner than ever. Here are a few of the downloadable applications:
TornadoSpy+ (iPhone, $2.99)
This app features AccuSpy technology which gives users warnings and locations of reported tornadoes through radar maps, push alerts, forecasts and offers snapshot images of tornado sightings. Its interactive tool allows for real-time alerts.
KOCO Tornado App (iPhone/Android, Free)
Oklahoma City’s news station KOCO-5 has a live, local and late breaking real-time feed of past, present and future tornadoes in the area. It helps prepare users by county for warnings of tornadoes, heavy rainfall and hail as well. This app provides videos, news coverage, checklists and information about preparedness and safety. Having an exit or shelter is imperative in the state of Oklahoma and if everyone joins forces, more people can get to safety sooner. There is also a “Social” button that connects users directly to KOCO’s Facebook and Twitter feed in order to gather reliable interactive weather updates, information and images. Sign up for severe weather alerts and breaking news.
Storm Spotter (iPhone, $5.99)
Didn’t know you purchased a mobile weather reporting station when you bought your iDevice, did you? Well, for $5.99 at the iTunes store, you can be your own weather person. Point and talk about the cloud shifts, the Santa Ana winds and predict rain, snow and hurricanes with the up-to-date data you’ll get. In all seriousness, this is another valuable option for watching the looming weather patterns either build or dissipate. You can program warnings for oncoming tornados and flash floods. Some unique features include: Adjustable opacity of the storm’s radar image, combines Level 3 radar data with Google Maps and warnings can be turned on and off.
iDamage (iPhone/Android, $1.99)
This app reports storm damage from trained spotters, emergency responders and the interactive public. View precipitation totals and images, hail storm pathways and specific damage reports over the Contiguous United States. With the auto-location feature, you can set your filter if you are on the road and don’t quite know where. Watches and warnings are not reported on this app so you’ll get solid storm event information. There is a wildfire feature, as well.
Author: Sarah Valley
Born and bred in Oklahoma, most might think that Sarah is a country bumpkin, but really she’s a Valley girl who loves the ocean and surfing in California. She also loves writing about the latest in surfers, swimwear and beach-time foot wear.