Press-Republican

FYI...

March 11, 2013

Weather warnings now issue from your pocket

JOPLIN, Mo. — Weather warnings have reached the digital age - a fact proven by Keith Stammer's cell phone. His latest mobile software is the free Tornado App, created by the American Red Cross to issue audio alerts including a high-pitched siren and the spoken, "Tornado warning!" when bad weather approaches.

Stammer, director of emergency management in Joplin, suggests people have back-up systems for their back-up systems when it comes to weather warnings. He encourages people to monitor three sources - the outdoor sirens typically maintained by municipalities, weather radios available for $30 to $60, and cellphone alerts.

"It's always better to have too much information than not enough," said Stammer, whose city was hit by a mile-wide tornado in May 2011 that killed 158 people and injured more than 1,000 others.

The Red Cross launched its new app in time for National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. The app also includes location-based alerts for severe thunderstorms and floods. When a warning expires or is cancelled, the app gives an, "All clear!"

A feature allows users to reassure family and friends they are out of harm's way.

“Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping,’’ said Debi Meeds, CEO of the American Red Cross for Southern Missouri. “The audible alerts in this app can save lives — even if users can’t monitor the weather because they are away from radio, TV or in places where weather band radios may not work.’’

The Red Cross has launched other apps for earthquakes, fires, first aid and hurricanes. The latter grew popular after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. It was downloaded by more than 400,000 users looking for real-time recovery information.

The National Weather Service has no app, but spokesman Steve Runnels noted its information "feeds the dozens of weather apps that are out there, whether it be a basic forecast or a situation involving a severe weather event and how hazardous it will be."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 23, 2014

  • Why it's basically impossible to delete those naked selfies you text

    If you're selling an old Android smartphone on an online auction site, you could be giving away rather more than you intend to, according to a recent investigation by anti-malware company Avast.

    July 21, 2014

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 18, 2014

  • Almost half of the world actually prefers instant coffee

    Americans' taste in coffee might be getting more high-end _with a growing fixation on perfectly roasted beans, pricier caffeinated concoctions, and artisan coffee brewers - but it turns out a surprisingly big part of the world is going in the opposite direction: toward instant coffee.

    July 17, 2014

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can plants hear? Study finds that vibrations prompt some to boost their defenses

    They have no specialized structure to perceive sound as we do, but a new study has found that plants can discern the sound of predators through tiny vibrations of their leaves - and beef up their defenses in response.

    July 12, 2014

  • wheat1.jpg Backlash has begun against gluten-free dieters

    The swelling ranks of Americans adopting gluten-free diets have given rise to another hot trend: people calling the whole thing a bunch of baloney.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140516-recalls_1357_88cb85dbc81b724b4ae9c83db4426fd8.jpg Auto recalls break single-year US record with six months to go

    With six months left in 2014, automakers have already recalled more vehicles in the United States than in any other year on record.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • The science of shyness

    Shy people have quite a bit to contend with - not least the word itself. It has a number of different meanings, none of which are flattering. To "shy away" from something implies avoidance; to "shy" can also mean to move suddenly in fright; to "be shy of" something can mean to come up short, or be insufficient.

    July 8, 2014

  • Wanna write a pop song? Here's a foolproof equation

    Pop songs (generally) stay in one key, are in 4/4 time, last between three and five minutes, are organized into chunks of four or eight bars, have a repeating chorus played two to four times, include the title sung at least three times, and feature short melodic fragments that repeat a lot to help everyone to remember them.

    July 7, 2014