Often, people ask, “Isn’t WeatherCall the same as the other weather alerts I get on my phone already?” The answer is – no! In 2012, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) began as a way to leverage the growing use of cell phones. The idea was to inform people within cell phone range that they were at risk of extreme weather. They’ve also been used to send out Amber and Silver alerts and would be used in the event of a nationwide risk, such as nuclear attack.
Earlier this year, we outlined recent problems with the system, including errant alerts. It’s happened again and this time, the alert was nearly right, but may have caused many to react in the wrong way.
On Sunday afternoon, August 19, unusually strong thunderstorms blossomed quickly over southern Missouri. In fact, on radar, the storm had the classic “hook echo” signature and the National Weather Service office in Springfield issued a tornado warning at 3:11 pm, indicated by the red outline, or polygon:
That warning triggered WEA alerts, which were supposed to be dispatched to cell phones inside the polygon. area. However, due to the imprecision of this system, residents outside of the polygon in the town of Marshfield (circled in red) also received alerts. That prompted emergency sirens to be needlessly sounded resulting in terrified residents taking action for no reason. Since nothing happened, how likely are they to respond the next time, when perhaps they really need to?
This is why WeatherCall is different. We only contacted subscribers inside that polygon and continued to do so, even as the storm tracked to the northeast. However, we didn’t call anyone in Marshfield! The bottom line with our service is that if you hear from us – you “know” the weather will get bad!
Know someone who is fed up with getting pinged on their phone time after time for false alarms? Introduce them to the power of WeatherCall. Give them this link: http://bit.ly/WXC_trial, so they can try it for themselves.