A free walkie talkie app has shot to the top of the App Store as
the Caribbean and southern US prepare for Hurricane
The app, called Zello, lets
you use your phone as a walkie talkie or two-way radio as
long as you have a network or WiFi connection. Users
can join channels and instantly send voice messages or
Zello launched in 2011, and it’s been used by rescue workers in
the past: A volunteer rescue group called the Cajun Navy that
formed after Hurricane Katrina frequently uses Zello, according to USA
Today. And since Hurricane Harvey hit last week, new channels
have been popping up on the app for groups like Texas Search and
Rescue and Houston-area midwives, USA Today reports.
Downloads of the app spiked during Hurricane Harvey, and
now, as Hurricane Irma descends on the Caribbean and the southern
US, Zello has reached the top of the App Store’s free apps chart.
According to app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, Zello has seen a massive
increase in downloads in the last 24 hours since Irma
became stronger than Hurricane Katrina was at its peak.
Here’s a look at how the app’s hourly downloads since August 28:
As of Tuesday morning,
Irma became a Category 5 hurricane and the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration detected
sustained winds of 185
mph. On Tuesday night, the storm began hitting
Islands, the chain of islands separating the Caribbean Sea
from the Atlantic Ocean. The National Hurricane Center predicts
Irma could hit Florida
early Monday morning.
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