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Weather alerts to arrive via cell phones

Cell phones have become almost universal in US society, with new and innovative uses for them cropping up all the time.  Most of the time, however, these new uses do not actually require enthusiasts to go out and get a new phone.  Instead, generally all that is needed is for phone users to download an app that will provide the new functionality.

The situation is different when it comes to the National Weather Service alerts that are scheduled to begin this week.  The NWS has set up a nationwide emergency alert system in cooperation with other federal agencies such as FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the FCC (the Federal Communications Commission).  Together, these agencies will coordinate to deliver emergency alerts to cell phone towers located inside the area in need of such an alert.

Most cell phones currently in use, however, will not be able to pick up these alerts.  According to Diane Cooper of the NWS, “People need, when they’re looking to buy a new phone, they really need to make sure that they’re a savvy shopper.  They want to look for the wire emergency alerts capability, or WEA.  Some cell phone providers are also calling it commercial mobile alert system.”

Unlike most new kinds of functions coming onto the cell phone market, this one could actually save lives if it helps alert recipients to evacuate an area before a weather disaster hits.  This means that a new phone is probably necessary, particularly for those who live in areas where serious weather events are a regular occurrence.  If you buy a WEA capable phone, do not forget the importance of recycling cell phones you will no longer be using.