In this digital age we rely on cell phones and other electronic devices to do so much more than simply enable us to talk or text with friends and neighbors. We play music on them, use them for GPS navigation, and now, we can receive warnings about severe weather events. America’s wireless industry has recently rolled out a nationwide text emergency alert system, called Wireless Emergency Alerts, that enables you to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages letting you know of imminent threats to safety in your area, including extreme weather. If severe weather strikes near where you are, a loud alarm coming from your phone will alert you to an emergency situation and help keep you safe.
The text alert system is free and automatic, so there’s no need to sign up for anything, and it’s a service provided by your wireless carrier, provided your phone or device can receive CMAS (which stands for “Commercial Mobile Alert System”) alerts, or WEA (“Wireless Emergency Alerts”).
When there is one of these alerts in your area, your phone will notify you via alarm sound and a displayed message about what the event is.
Because the alerts are geographically targeted, you will receive alerts for the area in which you are physically located, rather than where you live. So if you’re traveling to a tornado zone, you’ll receive a message if there is a severe weather alert in that area.
If your device isn’t CMAS or WEA enabled, you can download a number of weather apps from your phone’s app store (iTunes, GooglePlay, etc.) to receive alerts. But check with your wireless carrier to see if your phone can receive these alerts.