There are several ways to get warnings about hazardous weather or flash floods and other emergencies.
People can sign up to receive alerts through a new warning system offered by Okanogan County. These alerts can come by text message, email, mobile phones, landlines, or apps downloaded for mobile phones. People set a preference for the order in which these devices are notified and can provide up to five locations or addresses for which they want alerts.
The link to sign up is on the Okanogan County Emergency Management website at okanogandem.org. For more information, call Glenda Beauregard at (509) 422-7206.
Many people also receive automated alerts about the potential for flash floods or other hazards through the wireless emergency alert (WEA) function that comes with newer cell phones.
Whether people receive an alert depends on how close they are to the cell tower sending the alert, said Andy Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane.
“Make sure your phones are set up to receive these alerts, because it could be the only warning you will have,” said Brown. Information about how to check the settings is available at the websites and numbers listed below.
The alerts look similar to text messages and are accompanied by a unique attention signal and vibration. They complement the emergency alert system broadcast on radio and television, but the WEA alerts are transmitted by cell towers.
Wireless companies volunteer to participate in WEA. Local carriers AT&T and Verizon say they offer the service throughout the country on compatible phones. Consumers do not need to sign up for this service and there is no charge for the alerts.
The FCC requires all wireless carriers that do not participate in WEA to notify customers. Consumers should check with their wireless carriers to determine the extent to which they offer the alerts and to confirm that their phone is compatible with the signals.
For more information, visit the Federal Communications Commission’s website at www.fcc.gov, or call 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322). Information is also available at www.ctia.org/your-wireless-life/consumer-tips/wireless-emergency-alerts.
You can also see detailed weather reports posted by the National Weather Service in Spokane at www.wrh.noaa.gov/otx.