New non-subscription text alerts - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

New non-subscription text alerts


LA CROSSE, Wis.. (KTTC) -- Most people in the United States own a cell phone, and that's what the federal government is counting on to keep you informed of any impending danger.  Categories of danger would include active Amber Alerts in your area, national emergencies issued by the president, or life threatening weather.

When one of those dangers happen in your area, you will receive an alert message to your cell phone from the Wireless Emergency Alert System. FEMA, the FCC, Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service are all apart of this new nationwide system to provide you with a free and fast way to receive critically important information.

"Had we not known we would probably still have been outside," said the Lange family.

A phone call from a friend may have saved the life of the Lange family as a tornado tore through their farm near Harmony almost one year ago.

"Thank God someone called us and told us."

Even with new weather technology, 2011 was one of the deadliest tornado seasons on record due to that fact that many of the large tornadoes tore through the heart of highly populated cities. One thing that continues to get better is alert time ahead of these catastrophic storms and now there will be a new way to get that information out to the public.

"It's a non-subscription service as we understand it, basically if the provider is taking part in this new alert system, the messages as they come across will automatically go to wireless devices," said Todd Shea, of the National Weather Service.

 Once a warning is issued by a local National Weather Service office, the information will be picked up by your wireless provider and a short message will be transmitted by cell towers in that warning area, and transmitted to your phone. So even if you are traveling out of state and a warning is issued for a county you are currently driving through, you will get that warning.

"Part of the background for this program is to pick those higher end type of warnings so that people aren't getting to many alerts, but things like tornado warnings and flash flood warnings and even in the winter time with blizzard and ice storm warnings, which again are the typically higher end of those seasonal weather hazards," added Shea.

And those devices include any phone the receives text messages, not just smart phones.

"It will be interesting to see how not only how well it works, but how it's perceived. I would imagine that we'll run into a full spectrum from people that really enjoy it, want to know the information to some I would assume that might opt out and don't want to be notified," said Shea.

And you may be wondering if you are being tracked, the answer to that is no. The message again will be delivered by your cell phone provider once you enter or are currently in a county with a storm warning, amber alert, or presidential message. So, the next text massage you get could possibly save your life.

If you don't want to receive the weather or amber alerts, once they are activated in June you will have to contact your cell phone provider, although an alert issued by the president, you will get regardless.

This will not count towards text limits and they will come with a different vibrate style and sound.

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