For those of you living in the midwest, I hope this post finds you safe and sound tonight. As most of the country now knows, a line of severe storms passed through the middle of the country causing almost a dozen fatalities early this morning. This line of storms produced several tornados, one of which destroyed much of Harrisburg, Illinois. I am fortunate enough to know the small town of Harrisburg and have fond memories of it. The small town of just over 9,000 residents were met with an EF-4 tornado in the early hours of the morning. Harrisburg is only a mere 60 miles from where I am located. I am happy to say that my family and I were safe throughout the storm as it moved through and we realize how lucky we are after seeing the devastation the storm left behind less than an hour’s drive from our home.
I mention all of that to say this. STAY SAFE. We are on the brink of severe weather season in our part of the country and there can be only moments to take cover. The citizens of Harrisburg heard the sirens go off at 4:52 a.m., but had no time to take cover. We have a good tool at our disposal that not many people may think of — our cell phones. Our windows to the digital world bring everything into our hands, including the weather.
I want to encourage everyone who has a smart phone capable of push notifications to find a weather app that will send warnings to your phone in the event of severe weather. Those without smart phones, many news outlets have a text notification service that will send a text to you with weather information.
Apple includes a weather app on their iPhones as a part of their standard app package out of the box. To my knowledge, this app does not provide storm warning notifications. Weather.com has an iPhone app that works really well for notifications, and Accuweather’s app is also quite good. Both are free to download. We are currently testing out an app called Fahrenheit for iPhone and will report how well it works in a few days.
In addition to finding a good weather app, also make sure that you have your notifications turned on. I have Weather.com and Accuweather on my phone, but neither had active notifications pushing alerts to me. I can assure you, those are now turned on. My morning began with hearing the storm siren blaring through the neighborhood at 5:00 a.m. I actually thought I was dreaming it. If the notifications on my phone had been on, I would have taken noticed much sooner. The notifications from Weather.com come directly from the National Weather Service. Therefore, they are sent the same time the local weather personnel read the warnings on television.
We are supposed to receive another line of severe storms on Friday when a cold front moves through the area. I hope that everyone is prepared and stays safe this storm season.