Frequently Asked Questions about NOAA Weather Radio

  1. 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 Service office. NWR broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day.

    Working with the Federal Communications Commission's Emergency Alert System, 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 earthquakes 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 & Atmospheric Administration. The NWR network has more than 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).

  2. Where can I get a NOAA Weather Radio?

    NOAA Weather Radio receivers come in a variety of sizes, styles and prices and can usually be found in electronics stores across the country.

  3. How much does a NOAA Weather Radio cost?

    NOAA Weather Radios range in cost from $25 up to $100 or more depending on the quality of the receiver and number of features.

  4. What types of NOAA Weather Radio receivers are available?

    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.

  5. What frequencies is NOAA Weather Radio broadcast on and how can I get a list of the frequencies in my state?

    The seven NWR broadcast frequencies are: 162.400 MHz, 162.425 MHz, 162.450 MHz, 162.475 MHz, 162.500 MHz, 162.525 MHz, and 162.550 MHz. NWR coverage is expanding through our partnership programs with local communities. For the latest list of frequencies and transmitter locations, check this web site or the NOAA Weather Radio web site -- http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/

    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.

  6. What features should I look for in a NOAA Weather Radio?

    There are several features to look 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 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 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 receive only three frequencies which will not work in all locations.

  7. I just purchased a NOAA Weather Radio with the SAME feature -- where can I get the specific geographic code I need to program my receiver?

    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 1-888-697-7263) can also be used by radio owners to get the SAME codes needed. Or, check out this web site.

  8. Can I get NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts in my car?

    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 radios with NWR channels include Cobra, Maxon, Midland, Radio Shack and Uniden.

  9. I live in an area where I can't get NOAA Weather Radio transmissions? Is there another system in place for me to get forecasts, watches and warnings directly from the National Weather Service?

    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.

    Another low-cost method for receiving National Weather Service's (NWS) essential information is now available on a wireless data system. Called the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network, or EMWIN, this system presents the information directly on your home or office computer in a user-friendly graphics display. Simple mouse clicks immediately retrieve the latest weather and flood warnings, watches, forecasts, statements, observations and other data in text format, along with a sub-set of weather graphics including the national radar summary, and some satellite imagery. In all, over 6500 products are available. Users may set various alarms to be alerted to particular information, whether for their local area or from adjacent areas.

    The EMWIN weather information is free; the only cost is for the receiving equipment and inexpensive commercial software. This digital DataStream is available nationwide directly from several satellites and, in an increasing number of locations, in an easier and less costly manner using local radio rebroadcasts and other techniques. This approach provides the necessary redundancy for reliable data reception by a wide variety of users.

    EMWIN was designed to be a low-speed, low-cost alternative for emergency management officials and others that have no access to weather data or have few resources to afford such data. (Even at this current low speed, over 5000 pages of information can be received each day.) It was not designed, however, to replicate such other existing weather dissemination systems as NOAA Weather Radio (NWR).

    For more information about EMWIN, visit the following EMWIN web site at http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov/emwin/index.htm

  10. How can I help my community get NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts?

    The goal of the National Weather Service and emergency preparedness agencies is to expand the reach of weather radio broadcasts to cover 95 percent 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.

  11. My NOAA Weather Radio often turns on when the forecast office issues watches and warnings that don't impact me. What can I do about that?

    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.

  12. I live in one county and work in another -- will the SAME programmable NOAA Weather Radio receivers be able to alert me for more than one county?

    The capability to program the SAME-capable NOAA Weather Radio receivers for multiple counties is available on the new Radio Shack receiver and also on a commercial quality receiver sold by INH Technologies of Fort Worth, Texas. If this feature is important, be sure to check for its availability in whatever brand of SAME-capable receiver you look at.

  13. Do you have a similar program for communicating warnings to the hearing/visually impaired?

    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.

  14. Where can those items be purchased?

    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. Pager companies can give you information on weather-related information products.


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