While the threat of ice and snow seems to have passed, a new seasonal force is nearly upon us — tornadoes. But the American Red Cross has no intention of leaving you in the dark, launching a brand new tornado warning system app for the iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones.

Launched during the National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the Tornado App is the latest in a series of mobile apps created by the Red Cross, and have been used to help save lives during hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.

“This app will give you a warning whenever a tornado is near by giving out a high-pitch siren,” local Red Cross director Denise Maxwell said. “It’s really great because most tornadoes happen at night when people are sleeping. This app will wake up you in the middle of the night and give you a chance to get in a safe place.”

The free app is available in both English or Spanish and provides users with local real-time information so they know what to do before, during and after a hurricane. It is available now in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

“We’ve had a few people test it out and the feedback has been great,” Maxwell said, stressing the importance of being prepared for anything. “We are constantly on stand by this time of year, ready to respond to a disaster.”

Other features of the app include:

• An “All Clear” notice once the danger has passed

• 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

• Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks

For more information on the Red Cross, their Tornado App or National Red Cross Month, visit www.redcross.org or by visiting the local Red Cross headquarters at 113 S. Water St. A preparedness guide will be made available to keep handy during emergencies.

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