Best Portable Emergency Weather Alert Radio? Your Phone!

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With the rash of deadly tornados recently, not to mention thunderstorms, blizzards, and wind storms, there are plenty of reasons to want to be able to get an urgent or emergency local weather alert – or even a national weather alert – wherever you are. Sure, you could carry a portable weather radio, but it turns out that the best severe weather alarm radio is… your phone! Weather apps turn your iPhone or Android phone into an emergency alert weather radio, and provide you with mobile weather alerts.

Instead of an actual weather radio, your ‘weather smartphone’ will be your best weather alert radio; it fits in your pocket, will send you a weather alert text message, and provide you with weather radar and a weather map (unlike a radio). And even if you don’t get a severe weather text alert for weeks or months (and who wouldn’t like that?), it will give you weather forecasts, weather conditions, and those great weather maps. So, what is the best weather app for the iPhone? Or the best weather application for the Android? Happily, the best iPhone weather app and the best weather phone app for Android are, in our opinion, the same one!

As the company behind iMapWeather Radio, Weather Decision Technologies (WDT Inc.) explains, “With iMap Weather Radio you will receive critical alerts via voice and push notification regarding life-threatening weather events. Your phone will “wake up” with alerts and also track your location to warn you wherever you go. Listen to local weather forecasts while you are on the move. Enjoy the power of a NOAA Weather Radio, with all the convenience and precision of a smart phone.”

What makes iMapWeather Radio different from so many other weather apps is a few things:

  • Audio alerts, just like a weather alert radio. Explains WDT, “iMap Weather Radio provides audio alerts in the form of beeps followed by a brief description of the alert type. The audio could wake you in the middle of the night or give you inforrnation you need when you can’t stop to look at the phone.” You can even listen to the 5-day forecast for your areas, and the alerts for any of your selected areas!
  • You can track up to five locations at once, in addition to the “Current Location” setting.
  • The weather radar map is right there, very accessible, and updated before your eyes – for anywhere in the country.
  • In some areas IMapWeather Radio even has what they call “local media partners”, which enable you to view streaming video of severe weather coverage.
  • Up to Five Locations:

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    But most important, of course, is that the app alert you when there is dangerous or severe weather.

    There are many, many weather situations for which you can set up alerts. One thing that we noticed is that, at least for us, when you first set up the alerts, for those you have not yet selected, it gives an erroneous “Failed to save preferences to server” message, rather than a “not yet selected” message:




    But as soon as you select an alert (by simply tapping on it), the status changes to “Added”:




    We love the radar map – you can choose from several map “overlays”, including winter weather, thunderstorms and tornados, fire, and floods:








    Audio alerts and forecasts – very cool:






    It’s really no surprise that this app is rated 5 stars in the iPhone app store, with rave reviews to match.

    Many of the reviews talk, quite literally, about it saving people’s lives. “Downloaded this awhile ago and it warned me of a strong storm headed our way and it saved our lives! It turned out to be a tornado,” says one reviewer. “Got tornado WARNING the 1st day. Kids were on bus, driver didn’t know til I called. Could have been dangerous! Now kids have app! Like that it wakes your phone with audio alerts. Texts aren’t always enough. You may have a radio in your house but you ALWAYS have your phone!!” reads another.

    iMapWeather Radio is one of the more expensive apps out there, at $9.99. Frankly, we think it’s worth it.

    NOTE: In 2019 iMap Weather seems to be unavailable, however we have heard great things about NOAA Weather Radar app.

    NOAA Weather Radar for iOS

    NOAA Weather Radar for Android

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