Two weeks ago, I was awoken at 3:00 a.m. by three out of the five Android phones that were in the room hooting and whooping the emergency alert system (EAS) warnings, blasting at top volume. The warning at the time was for a potential flood in a city 40 miles away from me, and the phones would scream every 15 minutes to let me know the potential weather was an hour away with no obvious way to disable the warnings, other than shutting off the phones.
Last night, I was woken up by a tree limb hitting my house and a portion of what I believe to be a sign from a gas station several blocks away wobbling in my front yard, producing spooky noises. I heard a noise like a freight train, looked at the phones I could, and tried to figure out what was going on. Both had an alert on, but neither was making any sort of noise. There was just a little text box warning that said “seek shelter now,” or equivalent.
An EF2 tornado (111-135mph winds) touched down 12-15 miles north of me. Winds were over 60mph in my area, 18-wheel trucks were overturned just sitting in parking lots, and I got to sleep in because my phones decided to not make noise this time. I also discovered that my CyanogenMod-based phones don’t have EAS built in, which seemed a safe assumption, but last night seemed to prove it.
I wasn’t the only one who slept in. So far this morning, I’ve got tales of three unrooted (and one rooted) phones on Sprint’s network that made no noise during this, but did hoot all night for a potential flood many, many miles away. So far, I’ve heard audible EAS alerts for floods that didn’t happen, freezing rain that didn’t happen, and nothing for the tornado that did happen. While in my case the freight train noise was actually a freight train, people in Mt. Juliet, TN, were not so lucky.
I’m not sure why the alarms were silent for an actual night time emergency, but it’s kind of absurd to be woken for nothing weeks back and allowed to sleep through a tornado/storm in which people died.