CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Thousands of Kanawha County residents might have been confused early last week when they got a strange text message informing them of a flash flood warning.
C.W. Sigman, the deputy director of Kanawha County Emergency Services, understands the confusion, because he got one of the messages too.
Sigman said the messages were accompanied by a different sound than cell customers are used to, leading to some confusion over what the messages meant.
He said the alerts came through a system provided by the National Weather Service through local cellphone carriers. Sigman said about 150 cell providers nationwide have signed on to the system, which automatically sends alerts to cellphone customers.
Through the system, cell customers receive severe weather warnings, Amber Alerts or special messages from the president of the United States.
In the case of weather or Amber Alerts, "It's geographic," Sigman said. "Instead of everybody getting [a message] it's just in a specific area."
Sigman said different cellphone carriers handle the alert system differently. Some service providers send a Kanawha County weather alert only to Kanawha County cellphone customers.