The U.S. Government and some Stateside wireless carriers are about to launch the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system this month. WEA alerts those with handsets to dangerous weather conditions coming their way
such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, typhoons, blizzards, dust storms, extremely high winds, and ice storms. The information sent is based on the location of the receiver which means that a mobile phone user will see information that applies only to his/herarea.
WEA will also be used to disseminate Amber Alerts
The National Weather Service says the messages will be short, usually consisting of no more than 90 characters. The typical alert for approaching weather would give advice such as, "seek shelter immediately.
" Only weather warnings will be sent as the less dangerous weather watches will not be included the WEA system. Watches are used to disseminate possible weather conditions while a warning means that the dangerous weather condition has been seen or is expected soon.
The carriers taking part in the WEA system cover 97% of cell phone users in the country
. The list, in alphabetical order, includes AT&T, Cellcom, Cricket, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile
, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. The U.S. agencies involved include the FCC, FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Weather Service and others. Dangerous weather is not the only reason to use the WEA. The system can be used to report AMBER Alerts for missing children and Presidential Alerts for national emergencies.Amy Storey, spokeswoman for the CTIA, says that the majority of the warnings will be weather related. Mobile phone users will have the option to opt out of the missing children and dangerous weather alerts, but not the Presidential Alerts.
source: USAToday via MobileBurn
"These text alerts will be very brief, under 90 characters, 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."-Susan Buchanan, NWS spokeswoman