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Jul 9, 2012 11:37 AM

National Weather Service delivers alerts to your smartphone

TUCSON- Next time a flash flood is about to hit Southern Arizona, you might hear a loud beep from you cell phone.

It's part of a new text alert system from the National Weather Service, which warns smartphone users when severe weather is on the way. "It's similar to a text message," says Ken Drozd of the National Weather Service in Tucson.

The way it works is whenever there is severe weather heading to your county, you'll hear a loud beep from your phone. A message will appear on the screen, alerting you to severe weather. It gives the time frame, as well as the type of severe weather. "Then it's up to you to seek additional information whether that be from television, radio, or from another cell phone service," Drozd says.

Drozd says here in Southern Arizona the alert will come in handy during dust storms and flash floods, which happen about 70 times per monsoon. "The more information people know and the more information they can get, the better chances they have for protecting themselves," Drozd says.

The alert system won't send a message when there is a severe thunderstorm in the works because the weather service issues so many of those alerts.

But no matter where you go, you'll get the information you need. "If you're traveling across the country, you may not know which county you're in, but if there is a warning issued for the county you're traveling through, you will get that alert," Drozd says.

It's a simple beep that could save your life.

The alert system is free and automatically installed in your cell phone plan, but you can opt out.

Carriers right now include AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile.

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