The Federal Emergency Management Agency in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert on September 20 or October 3.
Hawai`i Emergency Management released the information Thursday morning, noting that the September date is the preliminary dates, followed by the October secondary date.
The WEA portion of the test will commence at 8:18 a.m. HST and the EAS portion will follow at 8:20 a.m. HST. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed.
Cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower and whose wireless carrier participates in WEAs should be capable of receiving the national test message, and will receive the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert).
This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test. The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones. Previous successful EAS national tests were conducted in September 2011, 2016 and 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency officials.
The EAS test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and is made available to EAS participants including radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers. The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar.
The WEA test message will read “This is a test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert system. No action is needed.”
The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. It allows customers whose wireless provider participates in WEA and who own a WEA compatible wireless phone to receive geotargeted alerts of imminent threats to safety in their area through unique tones and vibration. The national WEA test will use the same special tone and vibration.