One year after the pandemic sidelined the now-annual national test of the Emergency Alert System, the Federal Emergency Management Agency expects to return to form this summer. Sources say FEMA is tentatively planning to conduct the national EAS test on Wednesday, Aug. 11 with a backup date of Wednesday, Aug. 25 to be used if any unforeseen circumstances – such as a hurricane – requires a two-week delay.
Insiders say FEMA is planning to conduct a national test similar to what was done in 2019. Two years ago, the government leaned on broadcasters and the daisy-chain system for distributing messages during a national emergency. It will also be a gauge of whether federal efforts to beef up PEP stations – the network of 77 mostly AM stations that have a direct connection to FEMA and act as a primary broadcast source for national EAS messages – have improved the reliability of the system. Unlike the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the PEP system does not rely on internet delivery. The addition of new stations has improved PEP’s direct coverage from 67% of the U.S. population in 2009 to more than 90% today.