BlackBerry users in the Northeast receive emergency alert text for flash flood - WEA is up and running

Emergency Alert
By Adam Zeis on 19 Jul 2012 11:13 am EDT

Last night as I started to wrap up for the day, a crazy storm was hovering overhead. It was a big one that dropped down on most of New Jersey and New York (and even further north) and looked pretty damn scary. I was staring out the window hoping my newly planted trees didn't blow away, and it was then that I heard the obnoxious Emergency Broadcast System tone spewing from my office. Out of habit I immediately turned to my TV, but upon noticing it wasn't even on, I saw that my Bold 9900 was lit up. I had received what was dubbed a Severe Threat Alert Message on my device.

If you remember a few months back, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and other carriers all flipped the switch on the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) texts for consumers. These texts are issued for severe weather such as flash floods (as was my case), tornados and hurricanes as well as Presidential and Amber Alerts. 

If you've been running OS 7.1 you may have noticed you've had an Emergency Alert Message inbox on your device. If you jump in, you can see all your WEA messages and also have options to disable all but the Presidential alerts.

Side note - if you wan't to play the obnoxious emergency alert sound and annoy everyone, scroll down to Try It and have a go. 

So this is what my message looked like:

Emergency Alert TextEmergency Alert Text

I did some quick Twitter recon and found out my pals @jcarty and @asacco both got the same message on their BlackBerry as well (all of us on different carriers). This was a first for all of us, but still pretty cool to know it's up and running. How useful it will be for smartphone users that have access to plenty of weather apps is still up in the air, but those with feature phones will most likely find it welcome. 

Did you get an emergency alert yesterday (or any day?). Let us know in the comments!

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

BlackBerry users in the Northeast receive emergency alert text for flash flood - WEA is up and running


Like you and ken2ts, I am also from NYC and am on T-mo. I got the alert (loud sound) and message despite my phone being on vibrate all. I received about 2 alerts per hour between 2-6:30pm.

It wasnt an emergency, but I got an alert that my coffee was ready. I'm glad my wife doesnt sound like that alarm, usually.

I got the message while I was driving home....about 30 minutes after the downpour.. My 9810 made the "Danger Will Robinson!" lost in space sound :)


Wanna bet that if something like this comes to Canada, Rogers and Bell will be sure to charge you an extra $5.00 on your bill to cover this "free service".

NJ (AT&T) did not get a warning but it was not bad in my location.(Southeast) whereas the storm I think 2 weeks ago almost was devastating and still no alert.

I'm NJ on at&t and i did get the alert and so did the other 3 blackberry's in my house. it was really bad by me

No message thru the WEA on my 9810 & ATT, but did receive similar notifications because I signed on to the NYC message service. messages for weather, flooding, traffic, etc are forwarded direct to the device. Also received advisories from the BeWeather app as well....

If you didn't get the alert it's probably bc you either don't have the feature built in to ur berry (correct me if I'm wrong but it's only on OS 7.0 and up) or you have it but you've disabled some of the messages (This was a Severe alert, so if you have presidential alerts or extreme alerts only you wouldn't have received any alert).

Arizona users have been getting these alerts non stop with our flooding Monsoons -- so it's NOT JUST the No. East folks

Last night and all during the night we got our share of rain. (Chicago) I woke up about 3a and my berry 9930 had the alert on the screen. Checked the wife's berry 9350 she had it also. This is my second time receiving an emergency alert. It's great.

A quick reason why us BB'rs may not have received them in NY on ATT:

"Mobile devices with specific Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) capability can receive Wireless Emergency Alerts. As of 1Q 2012, the following AT&T devices are CMAS capable*:

Samsung Galaxy SII (SGH-i777)
Samsung Captivate Glide (SGH-i927)
Motorola Atrix 2 (mb865)..."

I was in the can (at work) when my phone went off. Nothing better then making a TON of crazy noises in the bathroom...made me giggle and I used it to leave work early. :)

At home Tuesday night. Wife my and my son's phone both went off. My 9860 - nothing. BEWeather sent me an alert, but something blocked the WEA. I am set to receive all alerts vibrate and sound on all profiles.

These kinds of alerts should be sent to everyone within the affected geographical areas of any major event regardless of device or carrier. It's a simple text message so the OS/brand of your phone shouldn't have anything to do with it.

I got it here yesterday in DC. My first one so far. The alert sound was easily recognizable but so loud it scared all my coworkers within earshot. Nice to have as long as it doesn't go off all the time but only with real emergencies.

Received mine in the office; didn't realize it was from BB. Thought it was a weather alert from BeWeather; lol

I got a ton of alerts the other day for flash flood and severe thunderstorms warnings in the Phoenix area. Didn't see a single drop of rain in our neighborhood.

It's cause all the storms start over here in Tucson first & then Phoenix gets the aftermath --- so it was more like just an "anticipation" of a severe storm ;p

I live in the Phoenix area and receive this alert last week when we were under a Severe Thunderstorm and Flash Flood Warning. It surprised me that I got it, but think it is pretty cool. As long as you can regulate how you receive it, I think it is a great idea.

It's kind of funny... IMO... but I was actually just thinking that my Emergency Alert Messages has never gone off before... Since we have had several storms here in Ohio, and one which was declared a state of emergency, you would have thought I would have received something... Nope...

I am also supscribed to the national emergency center something or other email system that alerted me so I wasn't every really in the dark, but I was just curious to see if this system was actually working... so i googled/tweeted to see if i would get a responce.

Glad to see someone got a successful message! =)
Hope you don't get washed away.

I'm in NYC, using OS5. Did not get the alert, needless to say I got totally drenched. And to think the high yesterday was 100 degrees in Central Park.

Glad I could help.

And to clarify, this isn't a text message, but rather a different type of message called cell broadcast. So in order for any phone to receive these CMAS/WEA, the phone must support cell broadcast messages.

I'm in New York with T-Mo and I didn't receive any messages. I did, however, receive alerts through BeWeather.

I received 5 alerts in Phoenix Arizona last weekend for flash flood warnings. It uses a special sound for an alert.

I remember years ago when people were talking about the idea of using SMS for tornado warnings in the mid west . The future has arrived.

How lovely. I was sitting in a crowded room at work with my phone on vibrate. We are not allowed phones. All of a sudden my phone starts beeping and then I had to sit there and pretend that I didn't know where the sound was coming from. Thanks BlackBerry!!!

I recieved several in the Phoenix area last week. It's kind of cool in the desert as it can be dry as a bone and rain elsewhere and the run off can reach you.

Yeah, here in Tucson on Sunday 3 inches dropped so fast that we had flash floods and the freeway flooded & cars were stalled under water by one of the malls -- #Monsoon!

Got two messages yesterday for flash floods where in SW Ohio. Curious why there were no thunderstorm alerts. Would like a way to pick what type of alerts to alarm on like I can with BeWeather.

Yep, got it last Friday in Southern California for a flash flood warning. Loud alarm and red icon in the tray. Had never seen or heard it before. Thought it might have been a function of Beweather, but this explains it. On Verizon.

I'm in Ohio and mine went off last week for a tornado warning. It was VERY fast......faster than all of the other forms of notification (radio, TV, police radio) that followed a few minutes later. Great feature, especially since the weather warnings on the weather apps (BeWeather and Accuweather) suuuuucccccckkkkkk! BeWeather sends out severe weather alerts hours later.....ridiculous and pathetic for a paid app.

I got 4 or 5 of these messages here in Houston, Tx. It started to get annoying and I thought it was coming from BeWeather. I guess if it's more direct and an immediate notification that can seriously help save lives then I'm all for it.

Traveled from Tom River NJ came back to Queens NY neither my wife (9930) or I (9850), both running o/s 7.1, received any Emergency Alerts through our carrier Verizon. The settings on both or our phones are set to receive all of the alerts offered. As others have stated only BeWeather Alerts were rolling in. Can someone at CrackBerry investigate this and find out why only some are receiving these alerts?