Most Middle Tennesseans received unusual text message alerts during the severe weather over the weekend.
The alerts are the result of a nearly one year partnership between the federal government and wireless carriers.
“The National Weather Service determined it will only send out the critical life-saving alerts, using that system,” explained TEMA spokesman Jeremy Heidt. “You'll only get tornado warnings and flood warnings.”
Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA partners the National Weather Service with the major wireless carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile.
The alerts are sent to every cell phone tower in the county where the warning is active.
The wireless carriers then send the text messages to its customers in that county.
“It is county based so if you're in Davidson County and there's an alert issued for Davidson County and you're near a Davidson County area tower, your phone will go off,” said Heidt. “If you travel into that area, say you're on the interstate you will get that warning within a few minutes of being in that warning area.”
In addition to severe weather warning alerts, WEA sends Amber Alerts and, in the event of a national emergency, messages from the president.
However, Heidt said Amber Alerts are seldom sent by text messages in Tennessee.
Cell phone customers may opt out of the alert system by contacting their wireless provider.
The alerts are sent only to smart phones.
Feature phone users will not receive the text messages.