Today's Change Announcement on Wireless Emergency Alerts

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) for your smartphone was a great idea. It was supposed to be, 
  • Life-threatening emergencies only (tsunamis, tornadoes, etc., see billboard above), 
  • Geo-specific. If you aren't in the threatened area, you aren't bothered. 
  • A tone loud enough to awaken you at night, thus solving the "wake me up only if it is a tornado" problem that NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) -- because of its frequent annoying tones for 1" hail -- failed to solve. In spite of 5+ decades of vigorous promotion, NWR has achieved only about 3% market penetration. 
From day one, WEA has had serious issues, including failures to activate, slow activation, and lack of geographic
Multiple WEA tornado warning failures in May
specificity. The most recent time my phone sounded a wireless emergency alert, it was for a flash flood warning in a completely different county. Over the last seventy years in the USA, we've lost just one person to hail every decade. Hail is simply not life-threatening. 

So, it is with regret that I inform you that the FCC and NWS decided to change the mission of WEA and is adding 2.75 inch hail and wind gusts to 80 mph as of August 2

As stated in the above billboard, and elsewhere, WEA was sold as a life-saving service. 

My well-founded fear, based on the failure of NOAA Weather Radio, is that the first 3am hail alarm, combined with WEA's other issues, will cause people to begin to deactivate WEA. And, when they do, they might get sufficient notice of a 1am tornado such as the fatal storm that struck Nashville in 2020 .

The NWS has also further confused things by making thunderstorm warnings more complicated. Instead of just severe thunderstorms   ( ≥1" hail and gusts ≥ 58 mph), they are adding,
  • "Considerable damage" thunderstorms
  • "Destructive" thunderstorms 
Not to be confused with "high wind warnings" and "extreme wind warnings." No one in the general public will keep this straight. In the long run, all of this will cost more lives than the wind/hail warnings will save. 

Yes, there are a few people who may need alarmed-warnings of hail at 3am. For them, they can purpose a tone-alert NOAA Weather Radio for $27.45 (Amazon price from a few minutes ago). 

WEA should have stuck to its original purpose. 


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