Federal authorities will be conducting a mandatory nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) Wednesday at 2:20 p.m.
A statement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said the “test will assess the readiness for distribution of the national level test message, as well as verify its delivery.”
The test Wednesday afternoon will take place on radio, television, cable and direct broadcast satellite systems. The test will last for approximately one minute.
“The test’s message will be similar to the regular monthly test message of the EAS with which the public is familiar, only inserting the word ‘national.’ ‘This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test,'” officials said.
The national test will complement local and regional tests that are conducted.
“Conducting the test following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria will provide insight into the resiliency of our national-level alerting capabilities in impacted areas. The test will also provide valuable data into how the Integrated Public Alerts and Warning System (IPAWS) performs during and following a variety of conditions. With two major hurricanes already making landfall, and a potential for two more impacting our nation, we need to have the ability to maintain the continuity of critical infrastructure under various conditions,” FEMA said in their statement.
The test marks the third time since 2011 that federal authorities have contacted a mandatory national test.
The EAS system stems from an earlier system created during the Cold War. In a national emergency, the president would be able to address Americans in just a matter of minutes. The system is also used locally for weather alerts.
A separate system – Wireless Emergency Alerts – is in place to alert users on cell phones of emergencies and severe weather alerts. That system will not be tested Wednesday.