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Published June 18, 2012, 07:03 PM

Mobile Alerts to be Sent Automatically to Your Cellphone Soon

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Starting this week, the National Weather Service will begin a new system to get the word out about severe weather.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Starting this week, the National Weather Service will begin a new system to get the word out about severe weather.

It's designed to reach people by cellphone in the immediate area that is affected by severe weather.

The alerts will be issued by the National Weather Service much like they issues warnings in the past. But with this service, you don't need an "app for that."

When Lindsey Kadrmas takes her daughter out for a stroll, she always takes her cell phone.

"I have my phone on me at all times," Kadrmas said.

And since most people do the same, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with other federal agencies, have created a system to alert people by cell phone about severe weather.

Starting this month across the nation, the National Weather Service begin sending out alerts for things like tornado warnings and flash floods.

"In the winter time we would see them for a blizzard warning, or an ice storm," NWS meteorologist Greg Gust said.

The alerts are free and will be automatically sent out from cell phone towers to anyone with a phone nearby. This is not an traditional app and there's no signing up for anything, though some older phone models may not be capable of receiving the message. But there are free upgrades to add the capability to phones including iPhones and Androids.

"It allows the warning to get out to a broader audience more quickly. Realize it is not a replacement of sirens in a community, for weather radio or local radio or television," Gust said.

Gust says a big advantage of the system is you can be anywhere in the country and if there is severe weather nearby, your cell phone will inform you.

The alert will be in the form of a text message and will automatically pop up on your cellphone's screen. You won't have to open it up to read it.

All of the nation's major cell service providers are cooperating, and that good news to Kadrmas.

"If there is something that you need to know like severe weather or something, that it would be great to have that available on the phone," Kadrmas said.

Other agencies can also use the system to send alerts for things like a lost child, chemical spills or even terrorist attacks.

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