“MyRadar” PHONE APP PROVIDES SEVERE WEATHER WARNINGS

13-R-19
Thu, 08/01/2013
Technical Release

Communication: apps

INTRODUCTION: Having an application such as MyRadar on your phone, that keeps track of where you are and tells you when to “head for cover,” can be a valuable tool in the field or at home—as I discovered this past March when a tornado touched down in our area.

GENERAL FEATURES: MyRadar and similar phone applications do the following:

  • Display animated weather radar and forecast.
  • Display National Weather Service (NWS) warnings on the Radar map (shaded by warning type).
  • Use the GPS in your phone to keep up with your location and to display it on the Radar map.
  • Automatically push notifications or TXT messages when you are in a warning area.
  • Give you access to warning details from the NWS.
  • Easily forward weather alerts to others.

Fig. 1: MyRadar icon app for iPhone.

OPERATION: 

  • Load the app on your phone and turn it on.
  • Make sure the Warnings slider is turned on.
  • Open it up, and have it zoom to your location.
  • When it asks if you want to allow push notifications, say Yes!
  • Those in hurricane-prone areas may want to add the hurricane tracker as well.

APPLICATION: The value of this phone application was proven to me during the following event this past March: I was in my front yard on a Sunday afternoon. I went into the house for a brief moment and noticed a push notification on my phone: “Your last known location is currently under a TORNADO WARNING!”


Fig. 2: “Current radar” screen example in Mississippi.

I tapped on the message and up popped the NWS alert which said that a tornado would be at my location at 5:10PM. I gathered the family, and we took cover in the bathtub—all six of us (it was crowded)! As soon as we all got in the bathroom, the power went out and trees started snapping.

Fortunately, we were all safe. The tornado touched down as an EF4 and destroyed over 200 homes. Our neighbors did not even realize it was a tornado until after it had passed. We lost a few trees, but the main path of the storm missed us by a quarter mile.

The media reported astonishment that with all the damage there wasn’t a single fatality. The reason cited was that folks were able to prepare, due to improvements in the advanced warning systems. In our case, we didn’t hear the sirens or weather radio. It was a phone that alerted us.

Fig. 3: Example of a local flood warning provided by the phone app.

SPECIFICATIONS AND COSTS:

  • You can load the free or professional version. The pro-version (MyRadar Pro) is ad-free.
  • You may also add NWS warnings from the settings menu for $3.99.
  • I have the app for my iPhone. It is also available for Android phones.

Aaron Welch
Weyerhaeuser Company
2056 Jessie Hall Road
McComb, Mississippi 39652
Aaron.Welch@Weyerhaeuser.com

FRA STAFF COMMENT: This is one example of a weather-related smartphone app that forestry and logging personnel have found extremely beneficial for outdoor work activity planning and for safety.

Reviewed by:
Rick Meyer
Appalachian/Southwide Region Manager