The sky darkens, light rain begins to fall as the wind picks up, and then it happens... a tornado siren starts it's familiar wail. Is this the real thing? And is the storm headed in your direction? Or could it be a false alarm that seemingly comes more often these days? You flip on the local news station and your trusted meteorologist is going "wall-to-wall" - but talking about a storm in another part of the viewing area. Or perhaps you are out at the park, or enjoying a ballgame, or otherwise occupied and don't have access to a TV or radio station. How will you know if this is the time you really SHOULD take cover? Introducing StormWatch+, the newest technology in mobile weather alerting from Cirrus Weather Solutions.
What is StormWatch+?
StormWatch+ is a unique, personalized service that puts the meteorologist in the palm of your hand by sending alerts to your smartphone or tablet whenever severe weather threatens your specific location. Combining storm-based warnings issued by the National Weather Service (referred to as polygons) and a user's precise location, alerts are sent only if their registered location is directly threatened.
StormWatch+ keeps you from becoming "siren-weary" and "overwarned" by only alerting you if you are in the path of the storm. If sirens or your NOAA Weather Radio sound the alarm, but you do NOT receive a StormWatch+ alert, you are NOT in the NWS-warned area.* Though you should continue to pay close attention to a local weather source, the warning issued by the National Weather Service does not directly impact your location. This is what we call "peace of mind" and you can have it for less than the cost of a meal at your favorite fast casual restaurant!
Why should I use StormWatch+?
In 2007, the National Weather Service began issuing Tornado, Severe Thunderstorm, and Flash Flood Warnings as polygons (see the Features and Benefits page), alerting only the areas in the path of the storm, rather than entire counties. However, for various reasons and in almost all cases, outdoor warning sirens still sound for an entire county even if the storm is affecting only a small portion of that county. This can create an overwarned public and increases the perceived warning false alarm rate, thereby reducing the siren's effectiveness and, consequently, the public's response. In addition, NOAA Weather Radios also alert on a COUNTY basis and are therefore not as precise as the warnings for which they are alerting.
At a recent "Weather-Ready Nation" conference in Oklahoma City, panelists at the conference stated that cell phones and geotargeted alert information are the most important warning dissemination technology available. In addition, a finding of the NWS Service Assessment of the Joplin, MO EF-5 tornado indicated that "many current warning dissemination systems are not fully compatible with specific warning information provided by storm-based, warning polygons." Officials at the highest level are giving credence to the use of geo-targeted alerts and warning systems that can provide very specific information.
Where can I get StormWatch+?
StormWatch+ is available as a stand-alone app on iTunes or the App Store for nationwide use. It is also available as an in-app upgrade within the MemphisWeather.net mobile app for Android and iOS devices. Links to the nationwide app, as well as the MemphisWeather.net version can be found on this page.
For nationwide use:
Memphis metro residents:
* Delivery of weather alerts via push notification is not guaranteed and is subject to many variables, including network infrastructure, available cell signal, etc, Never base important decisions on this or any other weather information obtained from the Internet. In matters of life-and-death, multiple sources of information is strongly advised. All users of this service are bound by the Terms and Conditions of Use.