SEATTLE – FEMA and the FCC conducted the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System Wednesday. It will allow federal agencies or the President to send out alerts to Americans simultaneously.
The test took place at 11 a.m. PST and was transmitted via television and radio stations within the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.
The test appeared to work on Seattle TV stations. Viewers saw a brief disclaimer before the alert, explaining to them that this was only a test. It was originally scheduled to last 3 minutes, but was shortened to about one minute. Regular programming resumed when it was over.
But the test was a flop in Oregon. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management said most radio and television stations reported they didn't get the signal, or did not get it well.
FEMA says it is aware the broadcast did not work everywhere and is looking into why.
A spokeswoman for the state agency, Jennifer Chamberlain, says that if there were a real nationwide emergency, the Oregon system could relay the information.
Comcast Cable was warning its customers that the test would interrupt regular programming and may disrupt cable boxes and DVRs. Comcast says you may need to turn your box off then back on after the test. Any DVR recordings that are in progress will be interrupted and may be lost.
If you continue seeing the EAS message for more than five minutes, shut off your box by unplugging it from the wall, then plugging it back in after 30 seconds.
DirecTV and Dish Network did not have information on their websites about how the test might affect their services.