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NWS System Changes Affect IPAWS Feeds

FEMA says some messages to mobile phones were not processed correctly

Text has been updated with additional information.

The National Weather Service has made a change to fix a problem with the format of its CAP messages sent to IPAWS.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency issued an advisory about this. “The problem caused some NWS warning messages, intended to be sent as WEA messages to mobile phones, to not be reliably processed through participating wireless provider gateways. Those messages may not have been delivered to mobile phones,” it stated.

“An NWS system change was designed, tested in coordination with the IPAWS program, and put in place on Friday, July 21, 2023.”

It said this ensures that the most severe NWS weather warnings are sent reliably as WEA to mobile phones; it said this also resulted in the weather service reducing the types of NWS weather Common Alerting Protocol products it is sending to IPAWS.

“NWS will continue to send severe weather warnings to the public as WEA messages. NWS severe weather warnings sent via WEA will also be posted to the IPAWS All-Hazards Information Feed,” the advisory stated.

“However, NWS is no longer sending additional NWS CAP products such as watches, advisories, bulletins and statements to the IPAWS All Hazards Information Feed. Those additional NWS CAP products may be monitored and consumed directly from other National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration CAP feed sources. Find details about NOAA CAP sources at their website.”

It said this NWS change does not affect or change CAP messages issued by other alerting authorities using IPAWS to alert and warn the public.

Radio World contacted FEMA to ask if the developments above had had any impact on the Emergency Alert System. A FEMA spokesperson replied: “This system change did not have any impact on EAS.  Due to technical limitations with a change in the weather alerting data sources, severe and life-threatening weather and local hazard warnings will still be delivered through the FEMA App, but weather watches and advisories temporarily may not be delivered. FEMA is working to develop an update to the app that will bring non-urgent weather alerts back to its users.”

The spokesperson added, “We encourage everyone to stay informed by enabling Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on your mobile device, signing up for alerts with your local emergency management office and also following your local National Weather Service office on social media.”