Some cell phone users will be able to receive free severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service beginning this Friday.
The nationwide emergency alert system is the result of a collaboration between the FCC, FEMA, and the wireless phone industry. The warnings will be sent to cell towers within the alert area.
But National Weather Service hydrologist Diane Cooper cautions that the new system does not mean that all cell phones will start providing the alerts.
"Most cell phones right now do not have this capability. So people need, when they're looking to buy a new phone, they really need to make sure that they're a savvy shopper," Cooper said. "So they want to look for the wire emergency alerts capability, or WEA. Some cell phone providers are also calling it commercial mobile alert system."
Cooper says it could take several years before the system works on most cell phones. Customers with WEA enabled cell phones will also receive AMBER alerts and presidential alerts during a national emergency.