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      Emergency weather alerts coming to cell phones

      Emergency weather alerts will soon be showing up on your cell phones.

      The Program is a sponsorship between the wireless industry, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

      According to the National Weather Service, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), also known as Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) or Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), is a national emergency alert system to send concise, text-like messages to users TM WEA-capable mobile devices starting June 2012. Wireless providers representing nearly 97 percent of subscribers are participating in distributing wireless emergency alerts.

      The system will officially launch June 18, 2012.

      The National Weather Service also said mobile users will not be charged for receiving these text-like alerts and are automatically enrolled to receive them.

      There are three different kinds of alerts:

      1. Presidential Alerts " Alerts issued by the President or a designee;2. Imminent Threat Alerts " Alerts that include severe man-made or natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc., where an imminent threat to life or property exists; and3. AMBER Alerts " Alerts that meet the U.S. Department of Justice TMs criteria to help law enforcement search for and locate an abducted child.

      The following information was also provided by the National Weather Service:

      While these alerts will appear on a person TMs mobile device similar to a text message, Wireless Emergency Alerts are not text messages. Instead, Wireless Emergency Alerts use a different kind of technology to ensure they are delivered immediately and are not subjected to potential congestion (or delays) on wireless networks.In addition, Wireless Emergency Alerts are a point-to-multipoint system, which means alert messages will be sent to those within a targeted area, unlike text messages which are not location aware. For example, if a person with a WEA-capable device from Washington, D.C. happened to be in southern California when an earthquake occurred in that area, they would receive an Imminent Threat Alert on their device. There are a number of WEA-capable devices available today, and many of the new phones that are sold from participating carriers will be able to transmit these alerts. If your device has the CTIA Wireless Emergency Alerts logo, then it is WEA-capable. To receive these alerts, you might need to only upgrade your device TMs software, rather than purchase a new one. To confirm Wireless Emergency Alerts are available in your area and your device is capable of receiving the alerts, please check with your carrier.