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Blog Posts by Lisa M. Fowlkes

New Cell Phone Weather Alerts Already Protecting Lives

by Lisa M. Fowlkes, Deputy Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
August 30, 2012 - 03:23 PM

A new text message emergency alert system has already proven its worth during the rare “derecho” storms that swept across the East Coast in late July.

Barely into its first few weeks of service, the new CMAS alerts flashed on cell phones in the Elmira, New York area almost instantly after the National Weather Service issuing a tornado warning.  Despite the fact that the area rarely experiences tornadoes, subscribers told the weather service that they took cover immediately.

 “Your warning of a tornado imminent in my area of New York, sent 7/26/12 via text message to my cell, was invaluable! From the bottom of my heart- THANK YOU National Weather Service!”one woman wrote on her Facebook page.

Delivered over cell phones and other mobile devices, these alerts and warnings are free and targeted to specific locales.  Consumers don’t need to sign up.  They just need is a handset capable of receiving the emergency alerts and a carrier who voluntarily provides the service.  Ask your carrier if they provide the service and whether your handset is CMAS-capable.

CMAS stands for Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) and the alerts that it issues are commonly known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). Consumers should look for CMAS-compatible handsets or check whether they already have one. Many handsets were made to be compatible with CMAS well before the service was actually launched on April 7, 2012. 

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