Everyone at the Q103 office walked out of their offices at the exact same time with a unison alarm coming from their phones. Everyone looked at each other while we read there was a Tornado Warning for Schenectady County. The alert said to seek shelter immediately.

Many became worried while others didn't realize they could get such alerts on their phones. So what's with those alerts? How and why do you get them?

They are called Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and are sent from government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. These alerts include weather alerts (like we got Thursday), Amber Alerts, and Presidential Alerts during a national emergency.

As for the alerts we got on Thursday, The National Weather Service is who sends them out for such things as Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings, Tsunami Warnings, as well as Hurricane, Typhoon, Dust Storm and Extreme Wind Warnings.

The alert you get is based on your location when the alert is sent out. If you are somewhere visiting or vacationing and an alert is issued, you would get it. So for example, if you are in Miami, Fla. and a Hurricane Warning is issued, you would receive a message.

If you are entering an area where a warning has already been issued, your phone would receive the message upon entering the area. An example would be yesterday - If you entered Schenectady county after the alert was issued you would get it once you crossed in to the county.

Can you opt out of getting these messages? Yes. Your device has an option to make sure you don't get the weather or Amber alerts. However, even if you opt out you will still get Presidential Alerts if one is ever issued.

For more on the WEA, see the below video