Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 7:01 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 2:36 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Amber alerts, Presidential alerts, and imminent danger or weather alerts will all be soon sent out to cell phones and will look like a standard text message.
The alerts are GPS based, so if you are currently in a location that receives the alert it will be sent to your phone.
The alerts will only be need-to-know weather alerts, so watches and advisories wouldn't apply. And this isn't intended to replace your NOAA weather radio or any other service you have, such as WIVB text alerts. To sign up for WIVB text alerts click here.
"We want to keep it to a bare minimum, so severe thunderstorm warnings are not going to be disseminated, but tornado warnings, flash flood warnings, and other real critical, life-threatening and property damaging type of systems will be the ones we are going to be sending messages on," explained Dave Zaff of the Buffalo National Weather Service.
For a list of all the weather alerts click here . The Buffalo NWS has reservations about the lake effect warnings and blizzard warnings because they are typically issued over 12 hours ahead of time or issued frequently so they may be altered.
"It is an industry wide initiative. With everyone carrying their cell phones everywhere, what is a better way to reach out to somebody on short notice to inform them of a weather emergency than their cell phone," said John O'Malley of Verizon Wireless.
Initially the alerts will be sent out by county. So everyone that is in the county of the alert will receive it, but eventually they will be able to just alert the people that will be affected or are in the path of the storm.
The alerts come through software within the phone and is being rolled out by manufacturer. Eventually all phones will have it. Click here for a list of devices that have this service.
"The messages are free so the customers don't pay for them. They can opt out at any time so if they don't want to receive the alerts they can do so from their phone," O'Malley said.
The only alerts that cannot be canceled are Presidential alerts.