A couple who travel frequently with their camper sent us this letter. They have been traveling for the past 20 years and have some really great tips on keeping in touch with the weather while you're on the road. Here's what they have to say (slightly paraphrased):


We have been traveling with our travel trailer camper for the past 20 years. Most of the time while driving we have our pickup truck AM/FM radio tuned to some radio station for either music or an hourly news broadcast. Most likely we do not have any clue as to the station's location. From our past experience, about 99 percent of the stations only give their call letters as required by the FCC. Thirty years ago most of the radio stations would give both their call letters and the name of the city where their studio was located. If the station you are listening to is in your hometown and the station interrupted with a weather watch or warning, you would pretty well know that the warning is for your city. But these days, you might not always know where the radio station is located and you might not have the advantage of knowing the local area when you are traveling.

We purchased a Radio Shack 7 channel whether radio, which is regularly powered by 120V house voltage. (This has all 7 weather radio frequencies preprogramed.) In the event there is a power failure, the radio will switch to the 9 volt battery backup in the radio. When using the radio at home, you select the station that give the best reception. On the underside of the radio there is an "Alert Lock Switch" which should be in the OFF position otherwise the alarm will not be heard. Every Wednesday between 11:00 a.m. and noon (usually close to 11 a.m.), the National Weather Service station will transmit a test signal which will activate the radio alarm buzzer. This alarm will just about raise you straight up in bed if it were to sound during your sleeping hours (as it will if a watch or warning is issued for your area). You may also listen to a recorded weather forecast any time during the day or night by pressing the "Weather" button.

When you are traveling in your car or truck and travel trailer, take your weather radio with you. Here are some tips:

Before you travel:

  • An important test you should make prior to departing is to press the "TEST" button and become familiar with the loud sound so it will not startle you while you are driving. There is no adjustment to the volume except by covering the speaker, and that would be defeating the purpose.
  • Have all the state road maps prior to departing; they are very useful in locating where the weather station is and also where the severe weather is located relative to where you are at the moment. At times they will call out counties that are affected and you will be able to locate them easily.
  • Use a 9-volt alkaline battery for longer durability and have several spares.

On the Road:

  • When you are ready to travel, simply wrap up the power cord, place the radio on the car or truck dash and the radio will be powered from the battery.
  • Extend the antenna and turn the channel selection knob to a weather station which has the loudest and clearest reception. When the reception becomes somewhat distant, it is time to select another which gives better reception.

When Camping:

  • When calling ahead for reservations or checking into a campground, ask if they have a storm shelter.
  • When camping for an evening, take your radio with you and use the 120V power source. Place the radio close by a window with the antenna fully extended to get the best reception.
  • Find out where the storm shelter is located and check it out before it gets dark or before retiring.

Last summer we experienced the plus of having a weather radio. While traveling in Mississippi, the weather radio alarm sounded. This gave us ample time to pull off the roadway and seek shelter. Had we remained on the interstate, we would have been involved in a blinding rain and wind storm, which is dangerous when pulling 30 feet of travel trailer.  We have also camped in campgrounds where our radio has alerted us to severe weather before we were alerted by the campground host. 

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