Roamy here. Yesterday’s test of the Emergency Alert System was something of a bust here. Almost all of the Alabama TV stations failed, with only DirecTV showing the test message. The alert system on the arsenal remained silent in my area, and that system usually works for severe weather warnings. The Alabama Broadcasters Association said FEMA was at fault, so we’ll probably be doing this again.
The first nationwide warning system was called CONELRAD, for CONtrol of ELectromagnetic RADiation. It was broadcast on 640 and 1240 kHz AM beginning in December 1951. It was to warn of an attack by the Soviet Union, not any local emergency or severe weather.
I didn’t know that radios were required to have markers for those frequencies, like this one with the Civil Defense logo.
I missed out on all the Cold War duck-and-cover exercises; my school stuck to tornado drills. CONELRAD was replaced by the Emergency Broadcast System in 1963, which always seemed to interrupt my Saturday morning cartoons. That was then replaced by the Emergency Alert System in 1997.
At least the local system worked well enough in April when the tornadoes hit. There are tornado sirens scattered throughout the city, and the local stations will interrupt programming to warn of severe weather. I’m sure having that system in place saved lives. They just need to be careful to not be the boy who cried wolf, with a warning every time the wind rises above 25 mph.
Let’s hope they get the bugs worked out.