Your guide to Poland’s weather & disaster mobile alert system
If you have a Polish mobile phone, you have probably received an alarming message in Polish from ALERT RCB which looks something like this:
Uwaga! Dzis gwaltowne burze, grad, silny wiatr i ulewny dedzcz. Wzrost stanow rzek. Unikaj otwartych przestrzeni, zabezpiecz dobytek. Sledz komunikaty pogodowe.
No, it wasn’t a hacker, spam, or your creepy ex. If you don’t speak Polish and didn’t translate it at the time, you may have been surprised by the violent storm later that night:
Warning! Today heavy storms, hail, strong wind, and heavy rain. Rising river levels. Avoid open spaces, secure your belongings. Tracking weather reports.
So, what’s up?
Who/what is RCB?
RCB stands for Rządowe Centrum Bezpieczeństwa (Government Security Center). It’s the Polish crisis management office under the direction of the prime minister, started in 2008.
Why did I get this alert?
An amendment to the Telecommunications Law earlier this year requires the agency to begin warning people on mobile networks in Poland of “extraordinary situations when life and health are in immediate danger.” That may include weather and other natural disasters, but also possibly military or terrorist threats. (Hopefully whoever is in charge of pressing the “send” button is a little more careful than the folks in Hawaii.)
Unfortunately, you can’t. According to the government, the law does not allow people to opt out, in the interests of public safety. Fortunately, at least it’s free, it is used sparingly, and it doesn’t collect any data about you.
Well, can I at least get it in English?
Currently this does not seem to be possible. However, here is a list of Polish terms which you may find useful in a pinch:
burza – thunderstorm
wiatr – wind
deszcz – rain
ulewa – heavy rain
deszcz marznący – freezing rain
deszcz ze śniegiem – sleet
śnieg – snow
lód – ice
grad – hail
powódź – flood
wzrost stanow rzek – rising river levels
trzęsienie ziemi – earthquake
pożary lasów – wildfire
niebezpieczne drogi – dangerous roads
atak rakietowy – missile attack
atak terrorystyczny – terrorist attack
atak biologiczny – biological attack
atak chemiczny – chemical attack
wybuch – explosion
aktywny zabójca/aktywny strzelec – active killer/shooter
zamieszki – riots/unrest
stan wojenny – martial law
zostań w środku – stay inside
unikaj… – avoid…
otwartych przestrzeni – open spaces
nie prowadź – do not drive
inwazja obcych – alien invasion
apokalipsa zombie – zombie apocalypse
wielcy starzy bogowie – Lovecraftian old gods
kaijū – Japanese monster
deszcz pająków – spider rain
derby Krakowa w piłce nożnej/Święta Wojna – Wisła vs. Cracovia football match
fałszywy alarm – false alarm
Aleksandra Gąbka contributed to this article.
8 thoughts on “Your guide to Poland’s weather & disaster mobile alert system”
We have these in the US. It’s helpful, especially in places with extreme weather.
We got the message in english yesterday around 1730 when we set on a terras in Krakow. Telling us a big storm was on its way…..red alert
More people got that same message from diverent countries.
But……nothing happened…not a drop.
Hello, I continue to receive these sms even I do not live in poland.
May I do something to stop ot?
i have a german phone number and today out of the blue received a msg in english about coming storm in Poland … sth is not working well…
I visited poland and returned 2 weeks ago. I am still receiving these messages, please add a way to opt out.
Same here. I spent 8 hours at the airport and it turned on. I took my flight to Bulgaria, since then i can’t get rid of these messages. I do not know the weather in Sofia but Poland…
Its funny that this report doesn’t mention the area, I’m two countries away and get alerted about local thunderstorms…
I got a message this morning telling about bad weather. But I was in Denmark and my network is Danish. So why did I get that message?