On a holiday like
today, with parades and picnics taking place, there's a concern among public
safety officials about how to alert the public of severe weather and other
Weather Service...working with the cell phone industry...has developed a new
way of letting you know when family safety is threatened.
It's called the
Wireless Emergency Alert...or W-E-A...Service. It begins in June. It's free and
you don't have to sign up for it. If you have a W-E-A enabled device, you will
receive an alert for whatever emergency, wherever you are.
In other words, if
you have a cell phone with a 7-4-0 number and you're on vacation in
Virginia...you would get a tornado warning for that county in Virginia.
Warnings will be sent according to cell tower locations.
They will be
brief...less than 90 characters in a text message. And they will only be sent
for extreme weather emergencies. For example, they'll be sent for Tornado Warnings
but not for Severe Thunderstorm Warnings.
Alerts for missing and endangered children will also be sent via text message.
If you own a basic
cell phone...not a smart phone...you will probably not receive these
messages at first. Smart phones sold over the past year or so...and all new
cell phones...will be able to receive them.
You can find out more information about Wireless Emergency Alerts at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/lwx/WEA/WEA.php.