6 essential apps to have on your phone for when natural disasters strike

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer

When an extreme weather situation is forecast, getting the right information at the right time is paramount, whether it’s before, during or after the storm has occurred.

Finding ways to communicate can be difficult in the chaotic aftermath of a natural disaster, especially if your family is separated.

Fortunately, technology continues to make significant advances to help those in distress during extreme weather. Here are some essential apps to have on your phone to help keep you ready, alert and in communication with your family and friends.


Free weather apps like AccuWeather can provide watches and warnings for when severe weather occurs. The app also lets people track storms with animated radar maps in real-time.

AccuWeather’s app also provides minute-by-minute forecasts for your exact location for up to two hours ahead of time.

Download the free AccuWeather app today to get the latest weather forecasts, with Superior Accuracy™, for your area and to stay alert to any crucial weather warnings or advisories.

app screenshot

How to get in touch with loved ones during and after a disaster
Healing after trauma: How utilizing meditation offers disaster survivors hope beyond the wreckage
Michael Jordan, Carolina professional teams and universities offer relief, donations to Florence victims

Red Cross

The Red Cross has several different apps specific to a number of different natural disasters including earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods.

The hurricane app provides detailed information to users about how to create an emergency plan ahead of the storm and also illustrates the history of hurricanes in your area.

It features a map with all open shelters and pushes government alerts. The app also has an alarm to sound if you may be trapped which can notify contacts that you are safe.

iphone generic


The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s app provides a list of disaster resources, real-time alerts from the National Weather Service, and emergency safety tips for many types of disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes.

As long as you are safely able to do so, you can also share and upload photos through its “Disaster Reporter” feature. The purpose of the feature is to “crowdsource and share disaster-related information for events occurring within the United States, allowing citizens, first responders, emergency managers, community response and recovery teams, and others to view and contribute information on a publicly accessible map,” according to FEMA.

It also offers a list of emergency shelters in your area.

In addition to FEMA and the Red Cross, many state and local emergency management agencies have applications. For example, the ReadyNC app, operated by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and North Carolina Emergency Management, provides real-time information on anything from evacuations, weather, traffic conditions, river flooding and more.


Zello is a free push-to-talk walkie talkie app that’s risen in popularity among emergency responders in the wake of the number of hurricanes that have hit the U.S. the last several years.

As Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas, several emergency channels were set up on Zello to allow people to request help.

One of the channels was being operated by the Cajun Navy, a group of civilian rescuers that often travels to disaster areas to help execute rescue and recovery operations.

However, the Zello network doesn’t work without Wi-Fi or celluar service.


Founded in 2008, Life360 is an app that can help families during natural disasters.

The app has a Family Locator Map which allows all members in a family circle to share and monitor everyone's location and choose a safe place as a meeting point.

It has a messaging function that allows family members to quickly communicate with one another. There is also what's described as a 'Panic Alert' which lets family members send a voicemail, email and notification to everyone in the family at once.


Whenever there’s an impending storm, and evacuation orders are issued, the local gas stations can often become overcrowded with long lines of cars as people all try to fill up their tanks at once.

Getting fuel following a natural disaster can be a challenge because shortages often arise and you might have to travel a considerable distance to find the nearest supply.

The Gasbuddy app has a “Fuel Availability Tracker” that allows users to discern where the most available fuel is in their area as well as the price per gallon.

For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.

AccuWeather ready logo

Report a Typo


Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News