Test messages for federal alert systems to be sent to cellphones Thursday, FEMA says

Federal officials previously announced that the government has a system for sending messages to all cellphone users in the event of a serious weather situation or other emergency.

On Thursday, the government plans to test that system.

So expect to receive a phone message beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced via Twitter on Saturday. The tweet includes a link to FEMA’s website that contains answers to many of the questions Americans may have about the system and the test.

For example, the system is called IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System), and it includes two parts: the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

The WEA test message will have a header that reads "Presidential Alert" and text that says:

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

The EAS portion will consist of the following text message:

“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.”

If for some reason the test is postponed, it will be rescheduled for Oct. 3, the FEMA release says.

Plans for the system were initiated in a bill signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2016, Reuters reported.