The Best Apps For #Tornado Season


When someone says “winter weather,” most people think of snow.

But in some areas of the country, particularly the South, winter can be an active time for severe storms and tornadoes.  And as we see all the time — like the Alabama and Georgia tornadoes.  They don’t even hit during “tornado season”.
In fact, on Dec. 23-24, 2014, 10 tornadoes hit Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia, killing five people and injuring more than 50.
While the chance of tornadoes is significantly lower in the winter than the spring, it’s important to stay prepared for any contingency.
Smartphones and other portable devices have proven to be important tools during spring storm seasons, and they continue to do so all year long. There are plenty of apps available to help during storm season.
One of the most powerful and comprehensive is RadarScope, an app popular with meteorologists. RadarScope is available in a free version, which contains most of the apps features, and a Pro version, which costs $10 per year and provides added forecasting tools.
RadarScope provides a long list of radars, from the standard precipitation to wind velocity radar that can show damaging winds and even rotation that could indicate tornadoes. It includes the new dual polarization radars, new tools that can show possible tornadoes more accurately. With these tools, forecasters can see possible debris balls that could indicate a tornado is on the ground and causing damage.
While RadarScope has powerful tools for forecasters, it’s easy to navigate and can be used by anyone. It also includes weather alerts that will sound if a watch or warning is issued in a chosen area.
WeatherUnderground has another app that can help in a stormy situation. Called Storm, the app is similar to RadarScope, though it lacks some of the radars, such as the dual polarization tools. The Storm app is free, but includes ads. An ad-free subscription is available for $1.99 per year.
This app can show everything from a storm’s track to the lightning it’s producing. It not only has a current radar, it has a future one that can predict where a storm is headed and how intense it will be once it gets there. Storm also can send alerts for favorite locations to the smartphone or tablet whenever a watch or warning is issued for that area.
For those just needing a quick glance at the current conditions, the Wunderground app from Weather Underground can provide that. Some of the information provided includes current temperature, radar, barometric pressure and wind speed, as well as humidity, rain accumulation, visibility and even sunrise and sunset times. The app also provides a forecast and temperature graph for the next five days. Again, the app is free, but an ad-free version costs $1.99 per year.
Finally, check out the area’s local TV station apps, if available. Most television stations have their own news apps, and many have their own weather apps. Some are better than others, but the local apps often can provide everything from timely weather alerts to the ability to stream their live broadcast to see first-hand what’s happening with the weather.
While winter is a slower storm season that other times of the year, it’s by no means absent of severe weather. It’s important to stay vigilant when severe weather is expected. Smartphone apps provide the best weather tools available while on the go. They can help ensure safety during storm season — any time of year.


Melissa L. Jones is a trained storm spotter, photographer and technology review columnist. Her column, “Tech Spotlight,” appears every Monday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.

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How To Create A Get Back To Life Plan

How To Create A Get Back To Life Plan

How To Create A Get Back To Life Plan | You'll find this and other quick and easy life hacks and organization hacks at

Courtesy of KRDO, Waldo Fire

Imagine that you and your family are sitting around the house one summer afternoon just enjoying each other’s company, when a wildfire suddenly breaks out just a few blocks from your home.    Depending on where you live, it could be a hurricane or a tornado, but let’s just call it a wildfire.  A firefighter knocks on the door and tells you that you have to evacuate.  Thankfully you know exactly what to do.  You print a copy of your Family Emergency Plan,  you all pile into the car with everything you need and drive directly to your evacuation location.  
Two days later — one of two things happen…
Scenario One 
Two days after the wildfire subsides, you and your family are in your evacuation location. The phone rings.  It’s a friend of yours calling to tell you that your home is badly damaged, and doubts that you will be able to live in it for at least two months if not longer. After you and your family get past the initial shock, you finally feel strong enough to open your Backup Plan Notebook.  There you find your Get Back To Life Plan and begin making calls to your insurance agent, your contractor and your boss. You call the local real estate agent in your evacuation city and ask her to begin looking for temporary housing, register your children in the local school and begin calling the contacts on your list that you’ve chosen to help you settle in.  
Getting settled is easier than you thought since you have copies of all of the vital documents you need, like your birth certificates and property deeds in a safe deposit box at the local branch of your bank. With a little hard work and a lot of courage, you and your family are back to living a normal life in a matter of weeks. 
Scenario Two   
Two days after the fire subsides, you and your family are staying in a relative’s spare room two counties over. The phone rings.  It’s that friend of yours calling to tell you that your home is badly damaged, and doubts that you will be able to live in it for at least two months if not longer. After you and your family get past the initial shock, you realize that you have no idea what you’re going to do.  
Same scenario, same challenges, one difference.  
One path comes with a plan for finding your way back.  
Facing a disaster – even a small one without giving yourself a plan to recover from it is like trying to build a house with no blueprint and no tools!  
It’s exactly what’s facing the survivors of the Nepal earthquake and what those who experienced the Fukushima & Haiti earthquakes, the Norman Oklahoma, Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes and the Colorado wildfires are still dealing with.
How To Create A Get Back To Life Plan | You'll find this and other quick and easy life hacks and organization hacks at

Click picture to download instructions

Let’s make sure Scenario Two doesn’t happen to you and your family.  In the last blog post, you created a plan to get you to your desired evacuation location.  But once you’re there, you’ll need to know what you’ll need and how things will function over the next three days, three weeks, or worst case scenario, three months.  Let’s see how prepared you would be to actually live in that location, until you can go back home.
Download a copy of our Get Back To Life Plan, or if you have our book The Backup Plan 3.0, you’ll find a copy in the back of the book.  Go over the questions below and once you’ve gotten a feel for the exercise, go ahead and complete the plan.
1.  Does the place we’re evacuating to have all the furniture and supplies we will need for up to one month?
2. What type of clothing would we need?
3. Can we store any basic supplies there before they’re needed, or do we need to purchase supplies when we arrive?
4. How will we handle our bank accounts, paying our monthly bills?  How much emergency cash do we need to have while traveling? What are our credit card limits and toll free numbers for emergency increases?
5. How will we work?  Will I be able to receive my paycheck in that location?  Will we work remotely or have to look for new positions?  What people or contacts can we call about temporary or permanent jobs?
6. How will we handle our medical, dental and prescription medicine needs while in the new location?  Can we get referrals to doctors and dentists that we can use, if need be, when we get there?
7. How long can we stay in our evacuation location?  If the evacuation lasts longer than we think, where will we go/stay?  Do we have real estate contacts if we need to find new permanent or temporary housing?
8. How will we secure the property or vehicles we have to leave behind?
9. How will we take care of our pets during the evacuation and until we find new permanent housing?
10. How will we handle our transportation needs?  What contacts will we need to purchase or lease vehicles?
11. How will we handle our daycare needs?  How will we handle getting our children into school if it becomes necessary?  What documents will we need to enroll them in a new school in a temporary or new location?
12.  How will we handle any special needs in our family?  How will we handle any potential problems we have identified?
Once you have you’ve answered the questions, complete your Get Back To Life Plan.   Once you’re finished, print, scan or make three copies of the Plan, and store it in at least three secure, damage-proof locations.   And while you’re at it, store a copy in your cell phone as well, in case an emergency occurs while you’re away from home.
Want to download these instructions for later?  Click Here to download the PDF version.

Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together!    We’ll talk later…



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