What Is NOAA Weather Radio?

NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information direct from a nearby National Weather Servcie (NWS) office. NWR broadcasts warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information, 24 hours a day. 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 or NOAA. The NWR network has more than 540 transmitters and broadcasts can be heard on the public service band at these frequencies (MHz): 162.400; 162.425; 162.450; 162.475; 162.500; 162.525; 162.550. NWR coverage is expanding through partnership programs like the one here at KIMT-TV. For the latest transmitter locations in Iowa and Southern Minnesota, click here.

Weather radios equipped with a special alarm tone feature can sound an alert and give you immediate information about a life-threatening situation. During an emergency, NWS forecasters and hydrometeorological technicians will interrupt routine weather radio programming and send out the special tone that activates weather radios in the listening area.

With the implementation of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME), it is now possible to program some weather radios to sound an alert for only the counties desired in a specific NWR’s broadcast area. The owner of a NWR with SAME technology would program the desired county into the radio. It will then alert the user only to emergencies for the specific county programmed. Other NWR receivers without SAME capabilities would alert for emergencies anywhere within the coverage area of the NWR transmitter, even though the emergency could be well away from the listener. The SAME technology can eliminate the appearance of over warning. Here at KIMT, we have partnered HyVee and Midland Weather Radios to offer weather radios at a discount of almost $20 off the suggested retail price. This radio offers SAME technology and also supports add-on accessories for the visually and hearing impaired. You can purchase them at your local HyVee through June or by clicking here.

When the NWS broadcasts an urgent audio message, it also creates and broadcasts a digital SAME code. This SAME code contains information on the type of message, county(s) affected, and expiration time of the message. (The SAME code can be heard as a brief static burst). An appropriately programmed NWR with SAME technology will then turn on for that message. For a list of the SAME county codes for Iowa and Southern Minnesota, click here.

NOAA Weather Radio is not just for emergencies. It is a round-the-clock source of weather reports and information to help you prepare for the day ahead. Each NWS office tailors its broadcast to suit local needs. Routine programming is repeated every few minutes and consists of local and regional forecast information as well as the latest local conditions. Additional information such as river stages, marine information, and climatology is also provided. The hearing and visually impaired can receive watches and warnings by connecting the weather radio to other kinds of attention-getting devices such as strobe lights, vibrating pagers, bed shakers, personal computers and text printers. Some of the accessories are available through this website.

The NWS now uses an automated broadcasting system called the NWR-2000 system. Forecasts and statements will automatically and instantaneously go straight from the NWS to the NWR 2000 system and out onto the airways saving several minutes of recording time. There will be no more delay in receiving critical weather information as well as more timely forecasts and observations. Also, as soon as a product expires, it is removed from the broadcast. The NWR 2000 system uses a computerized voice during the broadcast. Click here to read more about the computerized voice from the National Weather Service.

Weather radios can cost anywhere from $20 up to $150 depending on what you buy. They come in many sizes with a variety of features; from simple, battery-operated portables, to CB radios, scanners, and short-wave sets. The most desirable function to look for in a weather radio is an alarm tone. This allows you to have the radio turned on but silent and monitoring for that special tone that is broadcast by the NWS during an emergency. A radio with SAME technology allows the user to pre-select the local geographic areas desired for alerts. Make sure the radio is tunable to all seven NWR frequencies.

You can purchase many brands and styles of NOAA Weather Radios through this website or by visiting your local HyVee through June.

How do I program my NOAA Weather Radio?

If you still have questions about NOAA Weather Radio, Contact StormTeam 3.

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