Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Weather Radio - A Must for Every Home

2017 severe weather reports.
We have already had a good bit of severe weather this season. Radar technology has improved with the advent of dual Doppler capabilities, and lead times for warnings have improved as well. Yet, there have already been 27 fatalities from tornadoes this year, and we are just getting into the peak of the season.

In the aftermath of storms we often see people interviewed who say "It struck without warning". What that statement usually means is "I wasn't aware of a warning", because in most cases a warning was not only issued, but issued with enough time to take shelter.  Everything from the forecast to the warning can be perfect, but if people aren't receiving the information then that information can't help them.

Outdoor warning sirens are exactly that. Their purpose is to warn people outside of impending severe weather, and are not intended to alert folks who are at home with the windows closed, the AC running, and the TV turned up.

The rapid development in phone technology means that those with cell phones can receive alerts of severe weather, provided the phone is on and you have it with you. What about in the middle of the night when you are sound asleep and a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued?  The most reliable means of getting those warnings in time to take cover is a weather alert radio.

The NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards web page contains everything you need to know about NOAA Weather Radio, including consumer information about the radios, how to program your radio, and listing of radio frequencies and their status by county for every state. NOAA weather radio is even established in Puerto Rico, America Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the N. Mariana Islands.

Weather radios come in portable models that you can take with you to outdoor events or other activities like hiking or camping. Some have crank and/or solar recharging capabilities. Desk models run on AC power with battery backup.  The prices of radios range from $25 to $135, with most desk models in the $40 to $75 range. One feature you should seriously consider is a radio with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) capability.  This allows users to receive messages only for their designated county or counties of interest rather than the entire broadcast area. This is especially nice at night, as your radio alert will not be activated for areas you have not selected. On the basic radios without SAME, any alert issued for any area covered by a specific transmitter will be triggered on the radio. Note that the weather radio program is officially the NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio. In addition to severe weather, NWR also broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of natural, environmental, and public safety hazards.
My weather radio - ready and waiting.

There are only seven VHF frequencies used for NOAA Weather Radio transmissions in the U.S.

Weather radio frequencies in the U.S.

NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio coverage in the U.S.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts are also available via live streaming over the web.  A group of home weather station operators, website owners, CoCoRaHS volunteers, and spotters have developed a web site to live stream NOAA weather radio broadcasts across the country. This will not replace a weather radio in your home since there is no alerting capability, but it is a convenient way to access the broadcasts for other parts of your state or the country. The list of stations also include three from Canada. Visit for more information and to listen to live streams.

NOAA Weather Radio stations current available for live streaming on

Weather radio receivers will also work in Canada. Environment Canada, the government agency responsible for producing official forecasts, operates a network of "Weatheradio" transmitters which generally operate on the same frequencies as the U.S. NOAA Weather Radio network. More information on weather radio in Canada can be found here.

A weather radio should be in every home, just like a smoke detector. It should be located in a spot where you can hear it at night, preferably in the bedroom. Without being too dramatic - you're life could depend on it.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to say Thank You for mentioning As of April 19, 2017, we currently have 136 feeds broadcasting and would love to add many more.


    John Sacrey
    Benton, AR CoCoRaHS AR-SL-23
    NOAA Weather Radio Feed Provider for Central Arkansas