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[Washington State] Area residents alerted to flooding - in Puerto Rico
The News Tribune ^ | 6/13/2013 | Alexis Krell

Posted on 06/13/2013 9:06:11 AM PDT by cll

It wasn’t clear if residents of Puerto Rico got the warning about possible flash flooding in parts of the U.S. territory Wednesday, but at least some Pierce County residents did.

Cellphones across Western Washington warned users of flash flooding, though the National Weather Service said the local forecast called for nothing of the sort, and that the warning seemed to refer to some areas of Puerto Rico.

How widespread the alert was is not known, but at least several Tacomans said they got it about 1:40 p.m.

“Flash flood warning this area til 6 p.m. AST. Avoid flood areas. Check local media -NWS,” the message read, apparently referring to Atlantic Standard Time.

Abbey Riehs of Tacoma said she got the alert while her kids were napping, but was immediately skeptical.

“I could see plenty of blue sky out my window,” she said. “I didn’t actually believe it, I just thought it was strange.”

SOUND OFF: Locals react to emergency alert mishap How the text reached Pierce County was not immediately clear.

The Wireless Emergency Alert system picks up advisories sent by the Weather Service and sends them to cellphones in the region, but meteorologist Josh Smith said no one at the Seattle office forecast any sort of flooding Wednesday.

“They must have pulled the alert they sent out in Puerto Rico and broadcast it over here,” Smith said. “We have no idea.”

The alert system is a joint effort between the Federal Emergency Management Agency, wireless carriers, the Weather Service and law enforcement to send geographically based messages across the country about Amber Alerts for missing children, imminent threats such as extreme weather, and messages from the president.

It’s not the first time the relatively new system has confused Pierce County residents.

“I remember a couple months back we got several of them all within a day or so,” Hilltop resident Andrew Grimberg said about Wednesday’s alert. “I was assuming the system was all screwed up again.”

The system cried “blizzard” in December on a sunny afternoon, though the storm forecast for the Cascades was far closer than Puerto Rico.

Cellphone towers that cover part of the Cascades and also reach the lowlands appeared to send the message to all phones in their reach in that instance, without differentiating based on elevation.

That message didn’t specify the location of the threat either. Alerts are limited to 90 characters.

“I didn’t really think that much of (the flood warning) because I got a couple other alerts by accident a couple months ago,” said Cheri Gibbons, who was working downtown Tacoma Wednesday afternoon. “Just kind of ignored it.” Geography is one of several kinks that officials seem to be working out of the system, which launched in April 2012.

An Amber Alert was broadcast locally about 3:30 a.m. April 28 for a missing child who was later found in Fife. State Patrol officials said parameters would be placed on which hours of the day alerts about missing children are sent in Washington through the system.

Cellphone users can opt out of all but the presidential alerts by contacting their wireless carriers, though the State Patrol has said they hope residents don’t.

Meteorologist Smith stressed that many agencies are responsible for the program, and that the National Weather Service did not send the message to cellphones Wednesday.

“We have no control over those alerts,” he said.

TOPICS: Government; US: Washington
KEYWORDS: fema; nws; puertorico
This is the same type of people who will be running your healthcare soon. I guess we will start getting blizzard warnings in Puerto Rico soon!
1 posted on 06/13/2013 9:06:11 AM PDT by cll
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To: rrstar96; AuH2ORepublican; livius; adorno; wtc911; Willie Green; CGVet58; Clemenza; Narcoleptic; ...
Puerto Rico Ping! Please Freepmail me if you want on or off the list.

2 posted on 06/13/2013 9:06:56 AM PDT by cll (I am the warrant and the sanction)
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To: cll

If this had happened during the Bush administration, it would have been the lead story on every news program; an illustration of a systemic and inbred disconnect between the administration and the Hispanic community.

3 posted on 06/13/2013 9:10:04 AM PDT by Steely Tom (If the Constitution can be a living document, I guess a corporation can be a person.)
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To: Steely Tom

Yeah, and the message was in English, too! The nerve! :-)

4 posted on 06/13/2013 9:11:44 AM PDT by cll (I am the warrant and the sanction)
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To: cll
Someone in Puerto Rico will be hauled into the hospital by heavily armed IRS agents and get the emergency Appendectomy that I needed.

5 posted on 06/13/2013 9:12:44 AM PDT by BitWielder1 (Corporate Profits are better than Government Waste)
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To: cll
I guess we will start getting blizzard warnings in Puerto Rico soon!

Well, many folks think statehood would mean PR starts getting snow...

6 posted on 06/13/2013 9:58:16 AM PDT by JRios1968 (I'm guttery and trashy, with a hint of lemon. - Laz)
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To: cll

Quick, everyone run to one side of the island to counter balance the flood waters from tipping them over!

7 posted on 06/13/2013 10:18:12 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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