Popular Zello Walkie Talkie app issues alert to users as Irma approaches

MIAMI — A free app that works like a walkie-talkie is seeing a surge of new users as Hurricane Irma makes its way through toward the southeast United States.

The Zello Walkie Talkie app lets users talk to each other live,  one-on-one and on open, public channels in “old school CB Radio style.”

After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, word spread quickly on social media that people stranded by the flooding could use channels such as Texas Search and Rescue and Cajun Navy SE to call for help.

However, some false information also spread quickly that the app will work without internet access.

The company tweeted Tuesday and Wednesday, alerting users that the rumor is not true.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Austin American-Statesman quoted Zello CEO Bill Moore as saying there were “hundreds of thousands of people using it in the Houston area.”

On Tuesday, with another massive storm approaching the U.S., Zello said it was continuing to see an uptick in downloads.

On Thursday, the app was topping the iTunes chart for free apps.