A new, free hurricane app from the American Red Cross offers location-based NOAA weather alerts and lets users send a one-touch "I'm safe" message via social networks to family and friends in an emergency.
The app became available today, the start of the third month of the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The eastern Pacific Ocean hurricane season starts in mid-May.
Red Cross officials expect the Hurricane app to be popular. The organization's free First Aid app had nearly 600,000 downloads in six weeks.
"We're especially proud of the [Hurricane] app's social features that will help friends and families stay in touch during storms, reducing much of the fear and uncertainty for loved ones and property owners," said Jack McMaster, president of preparedness and health and safety services at the American Red Cross, in a statement.
In addition to the one-touch "I'm safe" message that can be tied to a user's social networks, the app provides weather alerts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It's also possible to use it to monitor weather alerts for other locations -- places where family and friends reside, for example.
The app also provides lists of locations of Red Cross emergency shelters and checklists for household emergency plans. It also offers a set of emergency steps for users to take if the wireless connection for a cellphone or tablet is lost.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.