New Tornado App Brings Safety Information To Mobile Devices in NM

Albuquerque, NM — The American Red Cross has launched its official Tornado App, putting lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in, visit or have loved ones in tornado-prone areas.

This free app—available in English or Spanish—gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado. The app includes a high-pitched siren and “tornado warning!” alert that signals people when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued in their area – even if the app is closed. An “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled.

“Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping,” said Rahim Balsara, CEO of The American Red Cross in New Mexico. “The audible alerts in this app can save lives - even if users can’t monitor the weather because they are away from radio, TV or in places where weather band radios may not work. Even though New Mexico is not considered a part of Tornado Alley, the East side of the state does have severe weather incidents that have spawned tornado cells and caused significant damage.”

Severe Weather Awareness Week is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a nationwide effort to increase awareness of severe weather and to motivate individuals, families, businesses, and communities to take actions that will prepare them in the event of severe weather.

According to Kerry Jones, Meteorologist with Albuquerque’s National Weather Service, “Each year, individuals are killed or seriously injured by tornadoes and other types of severe weather, despite advance warning. In 2012, there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries. Severe weather knows no boundaries and affects every individual.” The Alerts for the Red Cross Tornado App and the Hurricane App are provided by NOAA.

In addition to the high itched siren on the app, other features of the app include:

  • Location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood watch and warning alerts;
  • Enhanced weather maps;
  • One-touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends that they are out of harm’s way;
  • Simple steps and checklists people can use to create an emergency plan and share it with household members;
  • Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;
  • Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm;
  • Locations of open Red Cross shelters; and
  • Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.
  • Launched during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the Tornado App is the latest in a series of mobile apps created by the Red Cross, the nation’s leader in emergency preparedness. The apps have been used to help save lives during hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.

    “The Red Cross has made great strides in putting vital information in the hands of people who need it during emergencies. In fact, our apps are now on more than two million mobile devices across the country,” added Balsara..

    Balsara and Jones both recommend you know your risk. The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Every state in the United States has experienced tornadoes and severe weather, so everyone is exposed to some degree of risk.

    Check the weather forecast regularly and visit or to learn more about how to be better prepared and how you can protect your family during emergencies.

    When you pledge to prepare, you will take the first step to making sure that you and your family are prepared for severe weather. This includes filling out your family communications plan that you can email to yourself, putting an emergency kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved.

    Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, and check to see if your cell phone is equipped to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts and download the Red Cross Tornado App or sign up for localized text alerts from emergency management officials.

    During Superstorm Sandy mobile activity soared

  • More than 400,000 people downloaded the Red Cross Hurricane App;
  • Nearly 6 million NOAA weather alerts were sent;
  • Preparedness content was the most popular feature of the app followed by alerts and the shelter locator;
  • The average time spent using the app increased 300 percent; and
  • The app had 15 million page views.
  • Right after the storm, the Hurricane App was updated with real-time recovery information including Red Cross shelter and feeding sites, FEMA sites, open gas stations and warming centers to help those affected by the storm.

    The Tornado App, along with the others, can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to Apps can help prepare people for disasters, but they are not a substitute for training. Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training empowers people to know how to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. People can visit for course information and to register.

    The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year and we help people get ready to respond to emergencies by providing these apps for free. The Red Cross needs the help of the public to continue this lifesaving effort. People can make a donation to the Red Cross by going to, texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.


    The Red Cross depends on the generosity of the American people to fulfill our mission. To help the Red Cross continue to save lives, contributions may be made to the American Red Cross Local Disaster Relief Fund by calling 1-800-560-2302. Contributions to the Local Disaster Relief Fund may also be sent to the American Red Cross in New Mexico by mail: American Red Cross in New Mexico, 7445 W. Pan American Fwy. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or made online at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

    Media Contact: Beverly Allen, Communications Coordinator, 505.220.3097