NOAA Weather Radio Information

Protect Your Family

A NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is an essential tool to protecting you and your family from severe weather. The system is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearby National Weather Service office. The system broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day.

Working with the Federal Communication Commission, NWR is an "all hazards" radio network, making it a single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information. In conjunction with federal, state, and local emergency managers and other public officials, NWR also broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards, including natural (such as earthquakes or avalanches), environmental (such as chemical releases or oil spills), and public safety (such as AMBER alerts).

A NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards transmitter broadcasts on one of seven VHF stations. The broadcasts cannot be heard on a simple AM/FM radio receiver. However, there are many receiver options, ranging from handheld portable units which just pick up a Weather Radio – to desktop and console models which receive Weather Radio in addition to other broadcasts. Prices can vary from $20 to $200, depending on the model. Many receivers have an alarm feature, but some may not. Among the more useful features in a receiver are the following items.

Tone Alarm

The National Weather Service will send a 1050 Hz tone alarm before most warning and many watch messages are broadcast. The tone will activate all the receivers which are equipped to receive it, even if the audio is turned off. This is especially useful for warnings which occur during the night when most people are asleep.

SAME Technology
Specific Alert Message Encoding allows you to specify the particular area for which you wish to receive alerts. Most warnings and watches broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio are county – or independent city-based (parish-based in Louisiana), although in a few areas of the country the alerts are issued for portions of counties. Since most NWR transmitters are broadcasting for a number of counties, SAME receivers will respond only to alerts issued for the area (or areas) you have selected. This minimizes the number of “false alarms” for events which might be a few counties away from where you live.

Selectable Alerting of Events
While SAME allows you to specify a particular area of interest, some receivers allow you to turn off the alarm for certain events which might not be important to you. For example, if you live in a coastal county, but not right at the beach, you might not care about Coastal Flood Warnings.

Battery Back-Up
Since power outages often occur during storms, having a receiver with battery back-up can be crucial. However, unless you have a portable unit which you will use away from other power sources, an AC power connection is recommended.