Reporting Laura Skirde
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – It’s nice to get away from it all, but let’s face it, these days most of us still want to stay connected. This summer a new text alert system is taking that idea to a whole new level.
Wednesday was a beautiful day for a bike ride, but, what do you do when the weather turns?
“A lot of times you don’t really know. You see all the dark clouds back that way, and you don’t know if it’s coming this way or if I’m gonna be going into it,” said rider Greg Marshall.
Now emergency weather alerts, amber alerts, even potential presidential alerts are coming to your cell phone.
“We’re not in front of our televisions or radio all the time and yet most of us carry cell phones,” said Kathy Hoxsie of the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
No app download or sign-up is necessary and it doesn’t matter what phone or what plan you have.
“Tornado warning, flash flood warning, extreme wind warning and blizzard warning,” said Hoxsie.
You’ll get the text if you’re within a cell phone tower.
“It’s an agreement between the federal government and the cell phone companies that this is in the public interest,” said Hoxsie. “So there’s no cost to the counties. There’s no cost to the consumer with their phone. It’s something that’s done for the public safety.”
“I don’t know, it kinda seems like spam to me,” said Brandon.
Not so says the National Weather Service.
“These are going to be the most significant types of warnings; the kinds of warnings you want to get,” said Hoxsie.
But for now, those warnings won’t include severe thunderstorms.
“There’s just going to be too many alerts for severe thunderstorms, especially in the Midwest where thunderstorms happen multiple times a week. It’s gonna turn people off; and the last thing we want is for people to opt out of this system,” said Hoxsie.
Those text alerts will start in late June. No matter what kind of phone or plan you have all new phones will be equipped to receive them.
Those emergency alerts are transmitted like a radio signal from cell phone towers, so officials say there’s no way to track them to you or your phone.