LOS ANGELES (CBS) — You could soon start receiving text messages from the U.S. government in response to potential weather emergencies.
The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) service launched on Monday is the result of a partnership between federal officials and national wireless carriers including AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
The service will be provided free of charge by the National Weather Service and will not require consumers to sign up to receive the alerts.
It marks the first-ever such partnership by the federal government and the wireless industry that will provide location-based alerts, meaning you would receive an alert based upon whatever emergency may be happening near you even while traveling.
The alerts will include weather warnings for any event including a hurricane, tornado, flash flood, blizzard or other disaster.
In addition to weather and earthquake warnings, the service will also provide updated AMBER Alerts for missing children and even a national-level Presidential Alert — the only type of service which does not offer an opt-out for recipients.
The National Weather Service will also receive support for the alert system from the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies.