Ottawa Tornado Warning Sends Wireless Alert to Cellphones, But Some Still Missed

Canada’s Alert Ready system launched wireless emergency alerts back in April, debuting a system set to warn Canadians about emergencies beyond radio and television.

The system on Wednesday delivered alerts in Ottawa, Ontario, as a tornado warning was issued to all cellphone providers, along with TV and radio. However, some cellphone users claimed they did not receive the alert, despite having a compatible device.

According to Environment Canada, speaking to CTV News, if your phone didn’t receive the alert—sent at 5:36PM local time—it’s because it wasn’t setup properly.

“Some phones won’t actually have triggered because it has to be configured properly,” said Peter Kimbell with Environment Canada, adding “People will observe that some phones triggered and others didn’t and that is unfortunate but that’s the way it is. It is a newer technology, so the newer phones will trigger but the older phones won’t.”

The new wireless alert system is operated by Pelmorex—the parent company of The Weather Network—and they said the tornado alert was delivered “successfully” to all TV, radio and wireless providers.

A spokesperson for Pelmorex, Emily Ngai, said to CTV News, “For the alert issued on Wednesday by Environment Canada for a tornado threat in the Ottawa area, Pelmorex successfully delivered messages to TV and radio broadcasters, and all wireless service providers.”

The company also added the alert was sent out to TV stations, radio and wireless providers within 2.8 seconds.

In order to receive wireless alerts from the Alert Ready system, one requires a smartphone capable of LTE wireless signals and also be Wireless Public Alerting (WPA) compatible, plus connected to an LTE network in the targeted geographic area where the alert is issued.

For those with older phones connected to 3G, or those out of LTE range but on Wi-Fi, the iOS app Alertable can send you wireless emergency alerts, as it’s linked to the Alert Ready system.

Did you receive Wednesday’s tornado alert in Ottawa? What wireless carrier are you with?