You know those test alerts that TV and radio stations (including us) air from time to time? The ones that grab your attention with some beeps or tones and a short message? Well get ready, because you'll hear one of those today and this time your phone will be chiming in too.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) this afternoon, October 3. The WEA portion of the test will begin at 2:18 P.M. EDT, and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 P.M. EDT.


FEMA's website says that cell towers will broadcast the test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. You should only receive the message once, and some cell phones may not receive the message at all.

The test is meant to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.