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Weather Service uses wireless technology to send flood warnings

Reported by: Gerard Ramalho
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Updated: 7/22/2013 10:36 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews 3) -- A lot of us noticed something new on our phones Friday night -- Weather alerts from the National Weather Service.

Gerard Ramalho joins us now with an explanation.

Many of us were all caught by surprise. It's an automatic service that is carried by most phones and wireless devices.

We are all familiar with the distinct tone and voice of the Emergency alert system.

It pops up on our TV's and radios during weather emergencies. But, now similar alerts are being sent to our mobile devices in the form of a text.

"It's a bell weather service, it's meant to just get your attention," said Meteorologist Dan Berc.

The wireless emergency alert system was developed by FEMA last year and is already being credited with assisting residents in tornado and hurricane zones. The National Weather Service is authorized to issue the alerts.

This weekend the Las Vegas office was busy sending flood warnings due to monsoon rains.

"We issue flash flood warnings, severe thunder storm warnings this time of year they're very common," Berc said.

First, meteorologists identify the dangerous weather using satellite and radar technology. Then they pinpoint an area of concern and everyone with a mobile device inside the polygon receives the alert.

It is an opt out system so you often times won't know you have it until you get your first alert and you can chose to opt out of the alerts.

On most phones all you need to do is switch "off" in the settings. But, authorities encourage everyone to keep their alerts active because you never know when that extra warning could potentially save a life.
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