Tech Tuesday

Keeping Alert, Informed with a Smart Phone

Regardless of your network it might be time to move up to a smart phone for safety's sake.

Last weekend I was at a wedding in the rural town of Jordan, Minn. Great wedding, super ceremony and when my wife and I stepped into the church before the wedding the skies were storm free. But as we sat in the ceremony we could tell it was getting darker outside.

As the happy couple began greeting folks at the ceremony after the wedding, the town's storm sirens went off, and we were all herded into the church's basement. What was happening? I pulled my smart phone and opened up weather radar to find that in the hour of the service a hot, compact storm had popped up and it was carrying signs of a tornado.

As the priest commented at one point - if it weren't for Joplin, Mo. and North Minneapolis (both hit on the same day) we might have ignored the sirens and continued with the greetings and ending the wedding to head for the reception. But those storms told us all it's better to be under cover than taking chances.

But through the event, I knew where the storm was (OK with a 10-minute radar delay) and could tell when we were in the clear, thanks to my smart phone. Farms are lonely places, where you live by choice. These days those super weather alert radios can keep you informed (and if you don't have one with the latest signal tech so you only hear the warnings in your area, it's time to upgrade). But getting accurate weather radar isn't easy many times.

These days, National Weather Service radar can be pulled up on your smart phone as easily as you find a contact to make a call. You can know where the weather is and since most farmers are pretty darned experienced weather watchers, you can tell if you're out of harm's way.

If you've been thinking over the idea of the smart phone upgrade, perhaps this weather story is another reason to consider the move. My older phone still gets just 3G service, and frankly in the basement of a church in Jordan, Minn., I was getting less than that, but I was able to track the storm

Just something to consider as storm season continues for 2011.

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