How Weather Alerts Work

Cell Phone Weather Alerts

Cell phone weather alerts can notify users of impending storms such as tornadoes or hurricanes.
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Whether you're on your way to a soccer game or waiting to board a plane headed across the country, you'll want to know about problems with the weather at your destination. The easiest way to receive a bad weather alert may be on your cell phone or other mobile device. And you don't necessarily have to pay a premium for weather updates.

Application developers offer cell phone weather alerts ranging from simple weather alerts to notifications that offer broader types of emergency alerts. But media sources, such as The Weather Channel, also can provide an emergency weather alert on your cell phone, often based on reports they've received from the National Weather Service via the EAS. And even some cities are starting to offer these services.


Prices and options vary widely for cell phone weather alerts. Service availability depends on your wireless provider. While some services are free, you'll still need to pay your provider's rate for text messages. Here are some, but certainly not all, of the options:

  • The Emergency Email Network will send free e-mails to your cell phone, wireless device or PC notifying you about homeland security emergencies, local natural disasters, severe weather and other emergencies in your area. All you have to do is provide your ZIP code, e-mail address and device on which you want to receive the messages. You can choose the topic content you want to receive.
  • The Weather Channel provides a variety of weather information, including free 4CAST text-message alerts ranging from severe weather alerts to those specifically for next-day rain, extreme heat, extreme cold, icy precipitation and snow by subscription, as well as on-demand pollen alerts.
  • My-Cast from Digital Cyclone offers forecasts, maps and other weather information, including automatic phone alerts that make your phone beep when storms approach or lightning strikes nearby. My-Cast also brings you weather watches and warnings from the National Weather Service. This is a $3.99 per month subscription service for BlackBerry devices, iPhones and many other phones. The alerts aren't available on AT&T's network.
  • Norfolk Alert is a city-offered emergency alert service. If you live in Norfolk, Va., you can register a valid e-mail address and choose the alerts you'd like to receive, such as inclement weather, road closings and emergency notifications. Alerts can be sent to your home phone, cell phone or e-mail. Other towns also offer this type of service, so check what's available locally for you.
  • WeatherBug Protect from WireFly delivers severe weather alerts and daily forecasts to BlackBerry devices and other cell phones for $2.99 per month. The notification service pinpoints the subscriber's cellular location and gives any alerts for that location. Alerts can be formatted as recorded voice, text message or e-mail. Two-way messaging gives the subscriber a way to respond and report back personally on weather conditions.

Finally, if you're looking for weather alerts about somewhere more distant -- check out NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center. You can sign up for free e-mails that'll alert you about comets, asteroids, geomagnetic storms, radio blackouts and more.

Wouldn't it be great if the National Weather Service could send weather alerts as text messages directly to cell phone users? That's in the works. Go to the next page to find out more.