JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Imagine instantly getting a single text that can warn you of an approaching tornado.
It's a part of the wireless emergency alert system--a free service that alerts every Wireless Emergency Alert or WEA-capable phone within range of the cell tower.
Craighead County OEM Director David Moore says while extreme weather warnings have been added, other alerts have been available for a while.
"Any kind of life-threatening situation--Amber Alerts, Presidential messages--are all going to be available on some of the newer phones. Starting in June, it'll be available to us and it will be area-specific."
Alerts will be sent the second they are issued by the NWS during the most significant warnings--including tornadoes, flash floods, ice storms, and dust storms.
"What is happening where you are at. It's going to follow your location."
Moore says cell towers normally get congested in times of emergency, so it's hard to get a signal, but that problem is over.
"This is going through a separate system. Those kinds of problems are not going to affect this warning."
Most newer phones will come equipped with WEA capabilities, but some older phones will need to be upgraded to get the notifications.
Moore adds that these warnings will enhance the more traditional methods.
"They then know--turn that television on, turn the radio on. Find out what's going on."
He says you can opt-out of weather alerts anytime by finding the WEA section in your phone's users manual.