1 minute readHealth & Safety

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

This post has been updated for accuracy and editorial style.

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. (We also have an Emergency App that covers tornadoes and tons of other disasters and emergency situations)

1. Open the Red Cross Tornado app on your phone.

You will see the screen on the right.

Red Cross tornado app phone alert screenshot home screen 

2. Select add on the alert screen.

This will allow you to add locations. To do, select the plus button (upper right corner for iOS and lower right for Android users) and type in the zip code, city or state that you want to add.


3. To adjust your settings, tap the monitored location(s) in which you are looking to update.

If you’re looking to increase the radius around the location you’re monitoring, tap “Alert Radius” then use the slider to select your preferred radius.

 Red Cross tornado app phone alert screenshot radius set

4. To adjust your notification settings, tap “Notification Settings” then select the alerts you wish to adjust. 

To monitor your Current location, tap “Alerts” and toggle on  “Monitor Current Location.”

5. Clicking on one of your locations, you can add the people living there to monitor their safety.

Additionally, you can view a map of the area by clicking “Map” in the top right corner.

6. Find more alert information

Go to the main Alerts screen and hit “Alert Help” and then “What alerts will I get” or “I’m not receiving alerts” for more information.

7. Discover other useful features

You can also check out cool features in the bottom menu like the Weather Map to see the latest radar map and closest shelters, preparedness information, and quizzes.












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!

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  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. @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!

  10. @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!

  11. @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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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!

  19. @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.


  20. My comment sent sept. 13, 2014 still says “is waiting moderation”? All I asked is how to delete old alerts? I still need this question answered? Thank you.

  21. @Sherri — Thanks for your question! 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.

    We also have a 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.


  22. How can I delete old alerts? Frustrated! The list keeps growing longer and longer.

    IPhone 6+ iOS 8.3 and latest Tornado App.

  23. @Hollis Hi there! Alerts should be removed when they expire. Our app team is going to follow up with the developers about your concern.

  24. OMG! The list of expired alerts is massive. Any progress on the removal of these?

  25. I.like to get the red cross weather app the red cross help use out a lot when the tornado came through are town in 08

  26. @Michael Hi there! Someone from our app team should be reaching out to you directly to help address the alerts issue. Thanks for letting us know! -Sarah

  27. I’m using this app on a google nexus, and most of the screens are blank. I’m not sure if this would work or not.

  28. Hi Katie! A member of our app team will reach out to you directly to help address your question about the app on your Google Nexus. You should also know we have a new Emergency App that covers all sorts of disasters and emergency first aid information, just search American Red Cross in your app store. Thanks! ^Sarah.

  29. Yes I want to know more about the tornado sirens and want to have it on my phone let me into the bathroom and water comes up on my cell phone that’s what I want and I want her to have it on my cell phone

  30. @Ferdjones Hi Fred! We’re happy to hear about your interest in getting disaster alerts on your phone. Hopefully this blog answers any questions you have about setting up alerts, but let us know if you have specific questions. Thanks!

  31. Hi Mike, Alerts should be removed when they expire. I’ll pass along your concern to our app team.

    In the meantime, consider downloading our Emergency App, which covers tornadoes in addition to many other emergency situations. Search for it in your app store. Thanks!

  32. It won’t let me check the box to monitor current location. I have locations turned on and gps too. I would like to have this capability for when I travel. Is this the correct way to be monitored while traveling? It keeps saying can’t fetch current location.

  33. Hi Brooke! If you’re traveling, may I suggest downloading our Emergency App that lets you monitor 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts: http://3cu.be/shareeme. Let us know if you have any additional questions, and thanks for staying safe!

  34. Is there an updated version of your Red Cross Tornado Alert App? Your current 1 is for older android versions. It will not work on my new phone (Samsung Galaxy). Can I get an updated version that will work on a new phone? The current 1 tells me it can’t update alerts, that I need Internet connection. I have connection. I have locations but there are no alerts. Has no option to set siren alerts.

  35. Hi Lisa, Our the mobile team will be sending you an e-mail from mobile[at]redcross[dot]org to further troubleshoot. Thanks for reaching out!

  36. The radius on the Tornado app is set at 1.0 miles by default. Are the tornado notifications literally 1 mile from my zip code, or are notifications based on the default NWS notification area, such as the county the zip code resides in?
    For example, do I have to set the radius to 10 – 15 miles from my zip to ensure I have enough time to shelter in place? Or does the radius feature in the app is only to be used to cover large areas (e.g. multiple counties)? Thanks. Scott L.

  37. Hi Scott — Great question. The notifications are sent based on FIPS codes (a code assigned to each county, according to NOAA). You wouldn’t receive notifications for your specific area faster with a bigger radius, but a bigger radius would intersect with more FIPS codes and therefore you’d receive more alerts for areas further away. Thanks for using the app and staying safe!

  38. Find the safest area in your house or where ever you are at and if you are driving somewhere find the nearest place or house or store to stay safe then after the tornado is over you can finish what ever you were doing.If you don’t have a basement you have to find a safe spot with out any windows until it is over. Never be scared when there is a tornado because god and Jesus is with you but if it is your first tornado it is okay to be a little scared but always remember that god and Jesus is always with you where ever you go.

  39. Hi, Carol! You should be able to go into the settings on your app and change what locations and events you’d like to get alerts for.

  40. Does the tornado app send alerts to the people at the locations I’ve listed? They have iPhones.

  41. Hi Robert,The tornado app does not send alerts to the people you’re monitoring but you can simply tap the “share” button on the alert and send the alert to those affected via SMS, E-mail and via Social media.

  42. Looks like you’ve been trying to figure out how to delete old alerts for about 3 years – any progress??

  43. I love this app but I now have about 3 years worth of old weather alerts that are no longer valid. How do I delete them? I slide over and push the delete button, but they still appear. It is taking up much needed space on my phone.

  44. Hi Julie, to remove an alert from your feed, you can swipe from right to left on the alert to delete it from appearing in your active alerts. However, if you’re talking about alerts found in: “View All Alerts”, unfortunately we don’t currently offer a way to delete these, but we assure you these occupy little to no space on your device. The alerts contained in this section of the app, are new and expired alerts in case you accidently deleted one, you can always find it under “View All Alerts.”