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Strong winds, torrential rain, and power outages can threaten cellular usage. When cellular communication is down, people are left without the only source of communication they may have. Police and first responders are left without a way to communicate with each other. That’s why cell phone companies prepare for the worst.
Cell phone towers are built to withstand heavy winds and rains. Sprints’ towers are reported to withstand 110 mph winds. Many towers also either have a battery backup or a diesel generator backup that can power a tower when power outages occur, thus allowing towers to continue to have a signal. Companies also build sandbags to protect towers from potential flooding.
Since towers connect to switching stations, providers also make sure these stations are prepared to handle strong storms. Verizon is reported to have built some switching stations out of concrete, impact-resistant windows and steel roofing. The stations can also provide safe shelter for any workers in the path of the storm.
However, storms are unpredictable. Most providers prepare extensive emergency response plans for when strong storms such as hurricanes occur. These plans include response teams with emergency equipment. Temporary cell towers, trucks with diesel fuel (to power generators), and generators are placed along the storm’s predicted path. People track a tower’s usage at monitoring stations during the storm, and when a problem is detected the temporary towers are relocated to replace the down tower. These temporary towers allow cell phones to still have coverage. Cell providers also have a special team to directly work with local law enforcement during a storm. Providers provide police and first responders with special cell phones and help the emergency personnel’s local network become operational again.
Cell phone providers have emergency plans in place and in practice to make sure communication still occurs even in the worst storms.