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Emergency alert systems to be tested tomorrow as rainfall expected on Central Coast

FEMA and the FCC will be conducting a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Oct. 3, 2018 — on a day rainfall is expected in areas of Santa Barbara County.

County officials want residents, especially those anxious about rainfall following the recent fire and debris flow, to be conscious of these nationwide alert tests taking place beginning at about 11:18 a.m. The alerts will be sent to cell phones connected to wireless providers participating in WEA.

Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, officials say WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, will be receiving the following test message:

Presidential Alert

THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.

Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones.

This will be the first national WEA test and the fourth EAS nationwide test.

The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency, officials say.

The EAS test is made available to EAS participants such as radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio, and wireline video providers. The test is scheduled to last approximately one minute.

Officials say the EAS message will include a reference to the WEA test with the following wording:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”

The tests are designed to assess the operational readiness of these emergency systems and determine whether improvements are needed.

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