By Aldo Panessidi
Smartphone users who find themselves in the vicinity of dangerous weather will get a text message from the National Weather Service. The NWS’s new Wireless Emergency Alerts system is designed to get weather warnings to those not plugged into television or radio. Warnings will be delivered for impending rough weather due to tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, flash floods, extreme winds, blizzards, and ice and dust storms.
The free text messages will be less than 90 characters and sent to later-model smartphones including the Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy S2, HTC One S, HTC One X, HTC One V, LG Optimus L7 as well as the Optimus L5 . The message will sound a special alert and then vibrate. Exactly which phone models will have system access is not yet known.
According to Amy Storey, spokeswoman for CTIA-The Wireless Association (the trade group that helped set up the system), “These alerts will make sure people are aware of any impending danger and provide them with the information needed so they can be safe until the threat is over.”
Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will offer the service nationwide. To start, AT&T will only offer it in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon but plans to add additional markets soon. Apple will support the service this fall. It’s not yet certain if older iPhones will get the text warnings.