Greensboro, NC --What is that alert you just received on your cell phone? You didn't sign up to receive the alert and it looks nothing like anything you have seen before.
That's because, it is nothing like what you have seen before.
In weather emergencies, warnings can save lives. Traditional warning methods such as television, radio and outdoor sirens don't always reach everyone. As the cell phone takes more of a place in our daily lives, having a reliable warning system sent directly to your phone is the next step in making everyone more weather aware.
Beginning in late June 2012, emergency officials activated a new way to send warnings directly to cell phones in affected areas. These alerts are called Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs).
These messages that you receive on your cell phone may look like a text message, but instead of being sent directly to you, they will will be sent to all phones within range of the designated cell towers through the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS).
This message will alert you to the type of warning, the area to be affected, and how long this threat will last. From there it will be up to you to turn other platforms such as WFMY News 2, digtriad.com, NOAA All-Hazards radio or even social media for more specific information about the situation and what actions you should take.
Only a few warnings are included in this service including, but not limited to, Tornado , Flash Flood , Hurricane , Dust Storm , Extreme Wind , Blizzard and Ice Storm Warnings. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are not included in these alert messages.
As of the time of the initial roll-out not all cell phones are WEA-capable yet. The service is not yet uniform across all cell phone providers, coverage areas and cell phones, and may take a while before all of the bugs are worked out. This explains why you may receive the message, but the person sitting next to you did not.
If you would like to find out more information about the the Wireless Emergency Alert System click here.