You will hear a cacophony of buzzes and beeps on Wednesday afternoon when FEMA does a nationwide test of both the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).

The alert system's nationwide purpose is to send urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster. It can also be activated by local and state agencies regionally for Amber Alerts and severe weather requires a nationwide test every three years.

The tests on Wednesday are scheduled to take place at 2:20 p.m. The WEA test will be received on the cell phones of those who have opted in to receive test messages. The message will be received in both English and Spanish depending on the language setting of the phone.

The EAS test will be sent to radio and television stations.

The message will appear on the screen of cell phones and state “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” The message will cause a repeated vibration and loud tone. They are specially calibrated to ensure that hearing impaired mobile phone users will have access to the message.

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Test message for the Wireless Alert System test
Test message for the Wireless Alert System test (FEMA)

Launched in 2012 this is the second nationwide WEA test and the first that recognizes the opt-in feature available to block the alert.

FEMA said one of the goals of the test is to make sure that issues with Internet connectivity discovered during the last test in 2018 have been resolved.

If there is widespread severe weather or other significant events on Wednesday the test will be postponed until August 25.

BEEP BEEP BEEP: These are the 13 types of Wireless Emergency Alerts auto-pushed to your phone

The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system allows government officials to immediately and automatically push messages to all cell phones and mobile devices within a specific geographical area. There are a total of 13 types of messages that can currently be sent as a Wireless Emergency Alert. Nine of them are weather-related warnings, including one that is brand new as of August 2021.

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