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National Weather Service begins severe-weather text alerts

J Haymes photography

The National Weather Service may soon be texting you. It’s the latest initiative to keep people across the country up to date on severe weather, starting this week. 

Jim Kamper is the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in St. Louis. He says if there is an event expected in a region, capable cells within the affected area will receive an alert with instructions to seek shelter or other information: “Yes, it doesn’t depend on what your area code is on your cell phone or where you got your phone. It’s geographically based. So somebody that maybe lives in Chicago they’re here visiting friends in St. Louis if they are in a warning they will get it on their phone.”

Kemper says cell phones capable of receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts will automatically get the messages. Kemper says most newer cell phones have this capability. Cell phone users can check the box or manual of their device to see if it is WEA capable or contact their carrier. He says iPhones currently do not have WEA technology but Apple is expected to release a software upgrade for that in the future. Possible alerts for the St. Louis and Boone County areas include tornado, flash flood, and blizzard warnings.