Lights & Sirens

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Blizzard warning in effect … but not for Tacoma area

Post by Alexis Krell / The News Tribune on Dec. 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
December 16, 2012 5:20 pm

Pierce County residents responding to our all-call tell us they got emergency alerts this afternoon about a blizzard from Tacoma, University Place, Spanaway and other lowland areas that the National Weather Service says are not expected to get blizzards. We also heard from Seattle-area residents who got the same alert.

Here’s a snapshot one reader sent from her phone in the Puyallup area:

According to the National Weather Service, the message sent was part of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, which started sending notifications across the country this year.

It seemingly refers to a blizzard warning issued by the Weather Service for the Cascades from 6 p.m. tonight to 6 p.m. Monday.

Affected areas include Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass, White Pass and Paradise, the warning says.

Whiteout conditions are expected 4 a.m. through Monday afternoon. Travel through affected areas should be avoided if at all possible and will be extremely dangerous, according to the warning.

It’s not yet clear how or why the alert was sent so broadly, except to say that the notifications are broadcast from cell towers in specific geographic regions, Weather Service meteorologist Liana Ramirez said.

They’re “not elevation-based,” she added.

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