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NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information direct from a nearby National Weather Service office. NWR broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day.
Working the Federal Communications Commission's new Emergency Alert System (EAS), NWR is an "all hazards" radio network, making it the single source for the most comprehensive weather and emergency information available to the public. NWR now broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards - both natural (such as earthquake and volcano activity) and technological (such as chemical releases or oil spills).
Known as the "Voice of the National Weather Service," NWR is provided as a public service by the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NWR network has more the 450 transmitters, covering the 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the U.S. Pacific Territories. NWR requires a special radio receiver or scanner capable of picking up the signal. Broadcasts are found in the public service band between 162.400 and 162.550 megahertz (MHz).
NOAA Weather Radio receivers come in a variety of sizes, styles and prices and can usually be found in electronics stores across the country.
NOAA Weather Radios range in cost from $25 up to $100 or more depending on the quality of the receiver and number of features.
NOAA Weather Radio receivers come in many sizes and with a variety of functions. many radios can receive an alarm tone, triggered when the NWS issues severe weather announcements or emergency information. Most NOAA Weather Radio receivers are either battery-operated portables or AC-powered desktop models with battery backup, so they can be used in many different situations. Some CB radios, scanners, short wave and AM/FM radios are also capable of receiving NWR transmissions.
The seven NWR broadcast frequencies are: 162.400 MHz, 162.425 MHz, 162.450 MHz, 162.450 MHz, 162.475 MHz, 162.500 MHz, 162.525 MHz, and 162.550 MHz. NWR coverage is expanding through NWS partnership programs with local communities. Monroe County is served by the White Lake Forecast Office on KEC63 at 162.550 MHz.
Broadcast range from the weather radio transmitter is approximately 40 miles. The effective range depends on terrain, quality of the receiver, and indoor/outdoor antennas. Before you buy a receiver, make sure your area is covered by one of the transmitters.
There are several features to for in a NOAA Weather Radio. The most desirable feature is an alarm tone. This allows you to have the radio turned on but quiet, listening for a special tone that is broadcast before watch and warning messages. During an emergency, National Weather Service Forecasters will interrupt routine weather radio programming and send out a special tone that activates the NOAA Weather Radios in the listening area.
A new generation of NWR receiver allows you to pre-select the National Weather Service alerts you want to receive according to local geographic areas (counties or in some cases portions of counties). Look for NWR receivers with the SAME feature (Specific Area Message Encoding) which means that the receiver is capable of turning itself on from a silent mode when the digital code is broadcast before the alarm tone is sounded for the geographic area which you have pre-selected.
In addition, a good receiver should be able to operate on batteries during times when electrical services may be interrupted. Look for radios with an AC adapter and battery compartment. The radio should be tunable or switchable to all seven NWR frequencies. Some older models receiver only three frequencies which will not work in all locations.
The national Weather Service will offer a list of the SAME codes available on the NWS website at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr. A toll-free number (1-888-NWR-SAME or 888-697-7263 can also be used by 4radio owners to get the SAME codes needed.
Several automobile manufacturers (BMW, Mercedes, Range Rover and Saab) equip their cars with radios capable of receiving NWR broadcasts. Several manufacturers of car radios (Audiovox, Clarion, and Panasonic) sell in-dash units capable of receiving NWR broadcasts. Manufacturers of citizen band (CB) radios with NWR channels include Cobra, Maxon, Midland, Radio Shack (Realistic) and Uniden.
The National Weather Service works in partnership with media outlets across the country to get the most current and accurate weather information to the public. Tune in to your local radio and television stations for the latest weather forecasts, watches and warnings. NWS products and services are also available on the internet at http://www.nws.noaa.gov. Delivery of data across the internet, however, cannot be guaranteed because of potential interruption of service.
The goal of the National Weather Service and emergency preparedness agencies is to expand the reach of weather radio broadcasts to cover 95% of the U.S. population. Innovative partnerships between the NWS, private industry, and state and local governments are fueling this expansion. You can help foster such partnerships in your community. For more information concerning developing a partnership with the NWS, contact your local weather service office.
With the addition of the Specific Area Message Encoding technology, life-saving messages broadcast on NWR can now be targeted to a more specific area, like a county or portion of a county, to bring more hazard-specific information to the listening audience. While older models of weather radio receivers will continue to work, to take full advantage of the specific area warning technologies, you will need to get a state-of-the-art receiver with digital SAME capabilities for receiving geographically specific warnings.
The capability to program the SAME-capable NOAA Weather Radio receivers for multiple counties is available on some NWR models. If this feature is important, be sure to check for its available in whatever brand of SAME-capable receiver you look at.
The hearing and visually impaired can also get these warnings by connecting a specially-designed weather radio to other kinds of attention-getting devices like strobe lights, bed-shakers, personal computers and text printers. Many pager companies now offer alerting pagers that provide the latest weather information.
Some NWR receivers have a connector on the back to control all sorts of remote control devices such as flashing lights, bed shakers or other attention-getting devices. Check with electronics stores, electronics catalogs or conduct an internet search for more details. Paging companies can give you information on weather-related information products.