Severe weather apps warn with texts and high-pitched sirens

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The American Red Cross has unveiled a new severe weather app to equip people with the lifesaving information they are known for.

The official release of the app occurred this week for National Severe Weather Awareness Week.

When you download the 'Tornado App' and there is a tornado warning in your area your phone will sound a high-pitched siren. The Red Cross says since tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours, the audible alerts in the app can save lives.

"A lot time we don't have a lot of forewarning in these types of situations and so this is something that can give you immediate notification and you can act on that very quickly and it very well could save your life," said Jamie Dierking with the American Red Cross in Kansas City, Missouri.

The American Red Cross says the app gives people local and real time tornado watch and warning alerts. It says you can enter multiple locations and that with your permission it can geo-track where your phone is--issuing alerts based on your exact location.

With the app you can also find and get directions to the nearest shelter and alert family and friends you're okay. It says the app can even turn your phone into a flashlight or strobe light if you became trapped.

This free app—available in English or Spanish—gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado.

To find the app, search “Tornado by American Red Cross” in your phone’s app store.

Another option if you live in Johnson County is a county-wide public notification system called 'Notify JoCo.'  It sends weather alerts right to your cell phone.

"Notify Joco will alert you if there's an emergency within the county," said Deputy Rick Howell, Johnson County Sheriff's Office. "Let's say that we have a tornado coming into Johnson County, we can send out an alert message, an emergency message from the emergency operations center that will give you emergency instructions and news."

By opting in, you can get alerts through text message, email or voicemail. If you have a landline phone it will leave you a message.

Be sure to download the FOX 4 KC app. When severe weather happens, you can track the storm on radar from your phone and get your forecasts and breaking news via our mobile live stream. Download the fox4kc app here: FOX 4 Android app | FOX 4 iPhone app

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