Did You Receive a Wireless Emergency Alert Last Night?

Posted 11:50 a.m.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)You may have received a new kind of automatic alert on your mobile phone last night advising you of flooding threats. These are the new Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) built into newer smartphones. The National Weather Service sent last night’s alerts based on your location.

Wireless Emergency Alerts are free informational text messages sent to WEA-enabled phones within range of an imminent and dangerous local situation, severe weather event or AMBER alert. Fairfax County now has the capability to send these messages, too (but we did not send last night’s).

We encourage you to keep these messages turned on so you can be warned of a danger based on your location.

Wireless Emergency Alert exampleHowever, you can adjust alert settings on your device. You can opt-out of imminent hazard & AMBER alerts (but not Presidential alerts), but again, it is for your safety to be alerted to something like an imminent tornado based on your location if you’re at a park or inside your home. These alerts are not intended to be used frequently. Opt-in alert systems like our Community Emergency Alert Network and other tools from the National Weather Service provide more frequent alerts.

To find out if your mobile device is capable of receiving WEA alerts, contact your mobile device carrier or visit CTIA  The Wireless Association.

For more information about Wireless Emergency Alerts, read the WEA Fact Sheet. More information on WEAs also is online at www.Ready.gov/alerts.

View this one-minute video for more information, too:

About Fairfax County Emergency Information

Official emergency information about preparedness, response and recovery from Fairfax County Government.

27 responses to “Did You Receive a Wireless Emergency Alert Last Night?”

  1. Julie Cellucci says :


    Sent from my iPhone

  2. terry says :

    Yes I got the alert last night. It woke me up, so these alerts are very useful and valuable in terms of having adequate warning of dangers.

  3. Deborah Kahn says :

    Yes, both alerts woke me up. I’m conflicted as to whether or not I want to receive them.I certainly didn’t want to receive last night’s alerts.

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Anonymous says :

    Possible flooding wasn’t worth being awakened for; a tornado warning would be.

  5. Olga says :

    Thank you! I didn’t get the alert (I’m in Reston), so I checked info on my phone – I have an iphone through verizon, but turns out I have to upgrade to IOS-6 to receive alerts. Upgrading now!

  6. Anne Deatherage says :


    Sent from my iPhone

  7. Karen says :

    I have a Samsung Galaxy S4, and yes, I got both alerts. However, I didn’t see them until the morning because I had turned off my mobile data and internet connection for the night. (I didn’t want to be woken up by beeping, and I’m a new smartphone user who hasn’t figured out how to turn certain sound effects off.)

    I really appreciate the fact that Fairfax County is sending these out. Flash floods never affect me, but the flood alerts would help some folks in the county. Tornado alerts are the ones I’m really interested in. It would be nice to have a Fairfax County Emergency Alert App for Android where you could control what kinds of alerts you want to receive.

  8. Mary Jo Siclari says :

    Yes, thanks.

    Sent from my iPad

  9. BobFV@aol.com says :

    I got a whole bunch of flood alerts, at least a half a dozen of them, in the middle of the night which were nothing but a pain in the ass.

  10. mjwessel@aol.com says :

    No, I did not receive an emergency alert last night.
    Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  11. Lindzie says :

    Nobody wants a flash flood alert at 2am! There’s got to be some distinction between certain alerts. A tornado alert is an appropriate wake up call.

  12. Ron Tiernan says :


    Sent from my iPhone

  13. Anonymous says :

    Umm, I live on a hill so flooding is never an issue. Can I opt out of flooding alerts?

  14. Anne Strahan says :


    Sent from my iPhone

  15. Elma Allen says :

    Yes, thanks. The alerts should get quick attention since the tone really does”

  16. Al Walls says :

    Message was received.

    Al Walls

  17. Anonymous says :

    It was very unpleasant to receive this alert twice last night and it did not seem necessary. Despite the encouragement in the article to keep this system turned on, the experience has caused me to do the opposite. There is no way, I would risk this alert going off again this evening or any time soon again. If the alert was being strictly employed for rare events that caused wide-spread risk that needed to be acted on in some way, that might be a good reason to keep it active. However, I do not wish to receive multiple warnings in the night for weather-related events that occur with some frequency that I do not need to take any action on other than stay in my bed asleep.
    I may have missed something but unlike a text message, the alert message disappeared once the screen turned on and I could not figure out how to retrieve the actual message and any instructions.

  18. Carla says :


  19. Riche says :

    Last night’s alert was jarring at best and highly alarming (no pun intended) in the shrill noise blurting out in the middle of the night. Should be reserved for true emergencies and NOT a (relatively routine) flash flood warning which you could realize by listening to radio or ever (can you imagine) looking outside at the heavy rain.

    Caused me to turn my alert system on my phone to “OFF” even though I would love to leave it on.

  20. Joanna says :

    I like to keep my phone on at night in case my kids need me. I was woken up to 8 alerts which scared the xxx out of me! Being wakened so many times in the middle of the night for a flood alert made me angry. Save it for a tornado warning. Please!

  21. Janyce Hedetniemi says :

    I have tried five times to complete registration for this service and have been unsuccessful due to failure on the part of the computer response to register my answers to the questions.

    Is there somewhere that I can do this in person?

  22. Anonymous says :

    I am confused about the alerts. Time and time again I have been told that the alerts are not sent to phones actually in the location of danger, but to the phones that are home based in the area of danger. That is, if I live in Virginia and I am traveling in Kansas, I will not get an alert of a tornado in Kansas, but I will get an alert of a eminent Hurricane that might hit Virginia. Which is it?

    FYI: not all phones are capable of receiving the alerts. My old blackberry won’t get it, but my kids Iphone 4s and 5 will get them.

    • Fairfax County Emergency Information says :

      There are two types of alerts: the Community Emergency Alert Network, which has been around for awhile now, will send you alerts no matter your location…and this is an opt-in service.

      The new Wireless Emergency Alerts, which will eventually be a national system and will follow you no matter where you go. This system will send alerts to phones that are in a specific geographic location deemed to be in some sort of potential danger. But right now if you are in Kansas, you may not receive these geographic alerts because the system is not available across the country yet.

      Yes, these alerts are only available on late model phones. Carriers have the information about which models will receive these alerts.

      Thanks for your questions!

  23. Craver, Lance says :


  24. L says :

    Never got alerts about the storm. I used to get alerts regularly but absolutely nothing regarding the monsoon on Thursday night (no email or text message). I only received the flood warnings via email, not on my cell phone. Did the CEAN system change and I have to sign up again? My understanding is that CEAN is not the same as the WEA (CMAS) alerts supported on the newer mobile devices.