Severe-Weather Warnings Coming to Smartphones Near You

Here's what you need to know about the new service

By Angela Nazworth, InvestorPlace Writer

The National Weather Service is introducing a new wireless system to alert millions of Americans about threatening weather conditions. Here’s what you need to know about the new service.

  • The service is called Wireless Emergency Alerts.
  • It begins today.
  • It’s free. The messages will not count toward texting limits on your wireless plan.
  • Authorized government messages will be sent to smartphones via mobile carriers.
  • The service does not require an app or a subscription.
  • The messages will look like standard text messages, but will include a special tone and vibration that will be repeated twice.
  • The messages will be limited to announcing the weather systems that could cause the most harm such as tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, flash floods, blizzards, ice storms, dust storms and extreme wind warnings.
  • Severe thunderstorms will not be included in the warning system at this time.
  • There are a lot of unanswered questions about the new services’ compatibility with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones.
  • Sprint (NYSE:S), Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile offer the service nationwide.
  • At this time, AT&T (NYSE:T) only offers the service to users in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Portland, Ore.
  • The best way to find out if your carrier provides the service is to call it.
  • In addition to the weather alerts, FEMA will issue presidential alerts, public safety messages and Amber Alerts.

For additional information about Wireless Emergency Alerts regarding extreme weather warnings, visit You can learn more about the FEMA alerts, at

The Associated Press was a source for this report.

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