In the middle of Schenectady County Community College’s graduation ceremony Thursday afternoon at Proctors, phones started vibrating and ringing throughout the hall.
If it was a senior prank, it would have been a good one, but it wasn't. Instead, it was people with weather alerts programmed for their smartphones being warned of potentially violent weather in the region.
The National Weather Service provides alert and warning information through various sources, but direct email and SMS alerts come from other sources. Among those offering alerts, according to the weather service:
• AccuWeather.com provides free email forecast and severe weather alerts.
• AlertFM is an aggregator of state and local emergency information that can deliver warnings via SMS and email.
• AnythingWeather Communications provides severe weather alerting services, via email or mobile phone, of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, flash floods, lightning, winter storms and even specific weather variables such as extreme heat or cold, or maximum wind gusts.
• The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Commercial Mobile Alert System/Wireless Emergency Alerts offers free alerts for all mobile devices.
• FTPMAIL from the National Weather Service allows access for users who do not have access to the Web but can get email.
• iAlert.com offers real-time weather and emergency alerts by text and email.
• Twitter is a good resource for breaking information. The local @NWSAlbany was updated frequently during Thursday’s storm, as were local media feeds.
• Weather apps are also offered by various phone companies.
For a comprehensive list, go to www.weather.gov/subscribe.