Montana Rarely Uses Statewide Amber Alert Text Warnings
On Monday, October 26, the Montana Department of Justice triggered a statewide amber alert that sent a text message to cell phones. For many, this was the first time they had ever seen the system in action.
"That Amber alert went out a little bit differently," said Montana Department of Justice Spokeswoman Anastasia Burton. "The Wireless Emergency Alert System, otherwise known as 'WE,' was activated. That is why people heard their cell phones going off. Normally we use the WE system very rarely, the last time we used it was in 2013."
2013 also happens to be the year that the system was installed, so it is possible that this is only the second time the Wireless Emergency Alert System has been used.
"We only use it when we have a very good vehicle description and a license plate number," Burton said. "In this particular amber alert situation we had both of those items, so we decided to activate the WE so that people could get the information immediately."
According to Jen Kitsmiller from the National Weather Service, certain extreme weather events can also trigger a statewide warning. Kitsmiller said that, right now, Montana's Wireless Alert system is only set to send out warnings for tornadoes and flash floods.