Extreme-Weather Text Alerts Set to Begin
May 21st, 2012 - Filed under: News
Beginning this month, cellphone users can receive free extreme-weather alerts through the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) service. AT&T, Cellcom, Cricket, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless, which together represent more than 97 percent of cellphone subscribers, have agreed to offer location-based warnings for weather emergencies, presidential emergencies and AMBER alerts.
Alerts will be issued for such life-threatening events as tornadoes, flash floods, hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, dust storms, extreme winds, blizzards and ice storms.
“These text alerts will be very brief, under 90 characters,” said National Weather Service spokeswoman Susan Buchanan, “and are intended to prompt people to immediately seek additional information through the wide range of weather alert communications available to them, such as the Internet, television, radio or NOAA Weather Radio.”
Private forecasting companies have offered warnings to subscribers before, but this is the first national service by the federal government and the wireless industry.
Buchanan said alerts about very dangerous situations such as tornadoes will give advice such as “seek shelter immediately.” The weather alerts will be used specifically for weather “warnings,” not the less-severe weather “watches.”
Users do not have to sign up for the service, and may opt out of AMBER and Weather alerts but not presidential alerts.
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