Understanding  FIPS Codes 
and Specific Area Message Encoding (S.A.M.E.)

Do you like to sleep?  Do you find yourself turning off your weather radio completely so it won't wake you up when a warning is issued for a different county?  There is a solution. 

The answer is "Specific Area Message Encoding" (or SAME).  This is the latest in weather radio technology, using digital signals to alert radios on a county-specific basis.

The newest warning alarm radios can decode the Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) signal which accompanies each watch or warning message. The digital signal or "burst", repeated three times, contains information about the type of message, the counties affected, the length of time the message is in effect, and the source of the message. SAME radios are programmable, allowing you to specify which counties (and sometimes which types of warnings) you want to be alerted for. 

SAME radios cost anywhere from 30 to 100 dollars, depending on the brand, style, and features.

The identifying codes, called FIPS numbers which stands for Federal Information and Processing Standards, should be programmed into a receiver according to the instructions accompanying the radio. While it will depend on a number of factors, it would probably be a good idea to include warnings for an adjacent county especially when located near a county border. The SAME receiver pictured here has an 8-character LCD which displays items such as channel numbers and alert status descriptions (TORNADO WARNING, FLOOD WATCH, etc.) It also includes different-colored alert status indicators that let you determine at a glance the type of alert received (red for warning, yellow for watch, and green for statement).

FIPS code The table below shows the individual FIPS codes for each county in eastern Iowa, northwest Illinois, and extreme northeast Missouri in alphabetical order. The full identifier for each county is a 6-digit number; the first digit for the county subdivision (this number should be set to 0; numbers 1 through 9 are NOT yet being used); the next two digits are the FIPS identifier for the state (Illinois is 17, Iowa is 19, Missouri is 29), and the last three digits are for individual counties. So the full 6-digit FIPS number for Rock Island County, shown here, is 017161.

Remember that your radio will only alert you for counties within the transmitter's listening area, so check the coverage of your local transmitter(s) before you program your radio.  If you take your radio on the road with you and frequently travel between two different transmitters, you can usually program multiple counties.  For example, say you live in Vinton (Benton County) and work in Waterloo.  You could program both Black Hawk and Benton Counties into your radio.  Then when you are at home in Vinton, you will only get the Benton County warnings from the Cedar Rapids transmitter, and when you are at work in Waterloo, you would only get the Black Hawk County warnings from the Waterloo transmitter (provided you are on the right frequency).

Most SAME radios also have a way to revert to receiving all warnings within the listening area. This is handy when you take your radio on vacation.   

Our local area FIPS codes:   Table    Map

FIPS Codes for Other Counties
If you need FIPS codes for other states, go to the NOAA Weather Radio web site or call 1-888-NWR-SAME.

Area FIPS codes:  

County FIPS Code
Benton 019011
Black Hawk 019013
Bremer 019017
Buchanan 019019
Butler 019023
Cedar 019031
Chickasaw 019037
Clayton 019043
Clinton 019045
Davis 019051
Delaware 019055
Des Moines 019057
Dubuque 019061
Fayette 019065
Floyd 019067
Grundy 019075
Henry 019087
Iowa 019095
Jackson 019097
Jefferson 019101
Johnson 019103
Jones 019105
Keokuk 019107
Lee 019111
Linn 019113
Louisa 019115
Muscatine 019139
Poweshiek 019157
Scott 019163
Tama 019171
Van Buren 019177
Wapello 019179
Washington 019183
County FIPS Code
Adams 017001
Boone 017007
Brown 017009
Bureau 017011
Carroll 017015
Cass 017017
Dekalb 017037
Fulton 017057
Hancock 017067
Henderson 017071
Henry 017073
Jo Daviess 017085
Knox 017095
LaSalle 017099
Lee 017103
McDonough 017109
Marshall 017123
Mason 017125
Mercer 017131
Ogle 017141
Peoria 017143
Putnam 017155
Rock Island 017161
Schuyler 017169
Stark 017175
Stephenson 017177
Warren 017187
Whiteside 017195
Winnebago 017201
County FIPS Code
Grant 055043
Green 055045
Lafayette 055065
Rock 055105
County FIPS Code
Adair 029001
Clark 029045
Knox 029103
Lewis 029111
Putnam 029171
Schuyler 029197
Scotland 029199


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