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HOW TO: Set An Alert for Tornado Warnings On Your Phone

Severe thunderstorms can be stressful, and even more so when the phrases “Tornado Watch” and “Tornado Warning” are being thrown around. One of the most common worries that I see from people in areas with tornado threats is whether you can safely go to sleep when severe weather surrounds your home.

Luckily, the Tornado app has a helpful tool that lets you monitor any number of locations for warnings and alerts. It can cause your phone to emit an alarm sound when you are in an area with a tornado warning (remember, WARNING means that a tornado may be imminent and you must seek shelter immediately).

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to setting your phone up to alert you. Download the app (for iPhone or Android) by clicking here.

1. Open the Red Cross Tornado app on your phone. You will see the screen on the right.

Red Cross Tornado appRed Cross Tornado app

2.┬áSelect the Tornadoes button on the bottom navigation menu. You’ll see the Alerts screen.

Red Cross Tornado app

3. Select the Locations Monitored field and follow the directions on the next screen to search for your zip code and add any locations you want the app to track.

Red Cross Tornado appRed Cross Tornado app

4. Go back to the Manage Alerts screen and hit Alert Settings. Enable notifications and sounds. Make sure your phone’s volume is turned up and that it is not set to “silent mode”.

Red Cross Tornado appRed Cross Tornado app

5. Go back to the main Tornadoes screen and hit “What alerts will I get?” for more information. You can also check out the Weather Map to see the latest radar map.


6. That’s it! Tornado warning alarms will sound on your phone even if the app is closed.

Get your rest while the storms are passing through, but go to bed with your phone nearby and with a pair of sturdy shoes and a flashlight by your bed!

22 Responses to “HOW TO: Set An Alert for Tornado Warnings On Your Phone”

  1. App did not work in Tampa for me on iPad Sunday. All settings were as above suggested.

  2. Window phone users can’t get diaster apps from Red Cross. Nokia, contact the American Red Cross to get them off their penguin keisters about disaster apps! Their apps are no good for windows! They dont care but do runaround! We’re out in the cold!

  3. What if you have the iPhone set for “Do Not Disturb” at certain hours? Does the app override the settings that silence calls and alerts?

  4. There is a tornado watch issued right now for my location and this app didn’t send me an alert. Disappointed! Guess I will have to use other notification methods!

  5. We just got our first alert and it didn’t pop up on our device until almost 20 min after the fact…

  6. We are setting off on a trip to Alaska and want to be aware of any tornadoes brewing as we pass thru the Midwest. This app will make us feel more secure about what is happening with the weather. Thanks.

  7. My samsung stratosphere doesnt have the tornado icons at the bottom. Instead I have the words at the top so I had to click on the word tornadoes. Then set up from there is the same.

  8. Question is how do I delete a locations monitor from my IPhone on the tornado app?

    Thank you,


  9. What if you have an older phone and can’t download an app???

  10. Any plan for a windows phone app?

  11. @Kelly – You have other options for phone alerts too – SMS alerts are available in many areas (read more about that here: http://www.weather.gov/subscribe). There are many, many services out there that provide alerts at the moment; the key is finding what works with the technology you have available. I would also highly recommend also getting a weather radio as a backup plan. Thanks for your comment!

  12. @Mike – Not at the moment; Windows phones present a different set of challenges to develop for. However, I highly recommend checking out other options for alerts for your phone – see my comment to Kelly. This is a good site to check out: http://www.weather.gov/subscribe

    Thanks for commenting!

  13. @Gina – On the Manage Alerts screen, press Edit in the top right corner and you’ll see these red buttons appear next to each location with a dash sign in them. Press one next to the location you want to delete and then confirm by pressing the “Delete” button that pops up. Thanks!

  14. What a great use of technology. I hope to see more and more “public safety” apps in the future. Phones and tablets have become the perfect medium for such uses since so many people have them and they can convey such rich information.

  15. The Red Cross app is really cool. The interactive maps are awesome because you can see exactly where the weather is heading in relation to your house. The only thing I wish it had was a few more features like the AlertID app does. http://www.alertbroadcast.com/what-is-alertid. Aside from that, it’s invaluable if you live in a tornado prone area.

  16. And what do those of us who do not have Android/iPhones do?

  17. tornado overhead – no warning at all ” Sorry the application Tornado(process com.cube.arc.tfa) has stopped unexpectedly please try again”

  18. I got text alerts but no audio alerts on my IPhone. I slept right through a tornado warning. I have checked all my settings and they match the screens.

  19. How do you DELETE a location ? Added two by mistake and can NOT delete them. Removing and reinstalling this app doesn’t fix the problem. Thanks.

  20. Hi there! Open the app, head to the tornadoes tab, and click Locations Monitored. When you see the list of locations, press and hold on the location you want to remove. An box should pop up with options to view or delete the location. Select Delete location.

    Let us know if you have any more issues!

  21. Will this set off an alarm with a tornado watch as well as a warning? I live in Dallas and there is a tornado watch through much of spring! :) I just want to sleep unless I need to get in my closet. :) Thanks!

  22. @Joy – It looks like alerts from the Tornado app include Tornado Warning, Tornado Watch, Severe thunderstorm warning and severe thunderstorm watch. The app notes WARNINGS will be accompanied by the siren alert.

    If you select Tornadoes in the top navigation and click Alert Help, then “What alerts will I get?”, you can read more.

    Also — we just release our new Emergency app, check it out in your app store! It’s all-inclusive, combining more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts from natural to man-made disasters.


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